Media interviews can range from friendly to hostile and everything in between – whether you’re live on TV, on the radio or being interviewed over the phone. That can sound intimidating. So how can business professionals from organizations of any size adequately prepare for the bright lights?
Chip Scutari and Dave Cieslak of Scutari & Cieslak Public Relations share their insight on how to handle all types of media interviews, and most importantly, how to put your best foot forward and present yourself and your company in a positive light.
Be prepared. Being approached by the media with an interview request should be viewed as an opportunity. They have turned to you as an expert in your field. Reporters usually have tight deadlines, so you don’t often have the luxury of ample time to prep. It’s critical to have a clear understanding of what the reporter is looking for and to anticipate the questions you may be asked. Gather relevant facts and statistics that support your message. Be ready to comment about your own business and general trends in your industry.
Be honest. Don’t lie, guess, speculate or mislead during a media interview. It can certainly come back to haunt you. Like your mother always says, “honesty is the best policy.” Don’t be evasive or deny what happened – especially during a crisis situation. Instead, let the reporter know what you are doing to resolve the issue. This shows you are being proactive, which will help your organization’s public perception.
Be concise. State the most important information first during a media interview. Many people make the mistake of talking too much and veering off topic. Stick to your main talking points and do not allow yourself to wander off on tangents. Listen and focus between questions. Savvy reporters can use silence as an interviewing technique. Do not feel the need to fill the silence between questions with needless chatter.
Never say “no comment.” Don’t even think about it. If you cannot or do not choose to answer, explain briefly. Perhaps you’re still in the process of collecting all the details or you don’t want to disseminate inaccurate information. In nearly all circumstances, it’s better to manage a situation by facing it head-on and providing the information that you can provide. Instead of saying “no comment,” use a phrase such as “We don’t have all of the facts at this time, but I can tell you…”.
So are you ready for your big feature story or radio interview as a subject matter expert? With these media relations tips, you’ll be a pro in no time! Keep in mind, most people make up their minds within 15 seconds or less so always do your best to get your message out in a clear, concise manner. You should assume that everything you say is on the record.
Be sure to use sound bites with substance that reporters can use for great quotes. And practice, practice, practice…and then practice some more.
To learn about award-winning political and investigative reporters Chip Scutari and Dave Cieslak or if you are interested in media training, crisis communications or public relations, visit http://scutariandcieslak.com.