Media interviews can be difficult even for those who are used to the public and media attention-but they can be really scary for those who have never been in the Spotlight media before. For many people who have already …
Media interviews can be difficult even for those who are used to the public and media attention-but they can be really scary for those who have never been in the Spotlight media before.
Media Interview Training
For many people who have never interacted with the media, fear of the media usually comes from a feeling of lack of control in the process, and concerns over the motives of journalists in conducting interviews. Can I answer the reporter’s question? How do I know reporters won’t make me look bad?
Journalists, of course, understand many of the subjects of their interviews will react this way, and the good will do what they can to put those interviewed with ease. Journalists though have a tendency to believe people fear about the media is for the most part, without land. As a media trainer and former journalist, I know it’s not that simple. Facts often don’t speak for themselves and interview subjects can indeed look stupid, incompetent or worse, even if that is not the reporter’s goal.
The purpose of media training is to teach you how to serve both reporters’ goals and your own, honest, factual, and with confidence. Media training is designed first and foremost to allow interview subjects to understand how to exercise their control often even not knowing they have more than a process.
The first thing for a beginner interviewed to understand is that he is in far greater danger from a reporter who does not get it, than from a reporter who goes out to get you. Most journalists want to get the right story. If they work for mainstream news organizations, there are standards they must meet and are higher up to hold them accountable for these standards. That’s not to say reporters don’t sometimes get it wrong. This means if they are a professional, they have a stake in getting it right and value their reputation. That means you need to concentrate on telling them what they need to know to get it right. I firmly believe that it is always in the best interest of people to get involved with the media rather than avoiding them. Here are some basic rules for media interviews for you to remember:
Quick Tips for Beginners in PR and Corporate Communications
No spin: Don’t lie to reporters. Ever. This does not mean you have to tell all, explain all and reveal all. This means you need to maintain your credibility at all times by ensuring the truth of what you say can be counted on. This also has the advantage of reducing the need to correct statements later.
Preparation is key: reporters seek to tell a story that others can relate to or at least find a relationship with. Think in advance about the main points you want to make with reporters and how you want to get those points. This is called Messaging and it is an important part of every interaction with reporters.
Think about why you are being interviewed: You might not talk to a reporter just to provide them with raw data. More likely, you are there to provide some kind of perspective. Concentrate later on a bigger picture regarding the problem or event; as an expert, observer or participant.
More or less: talking to reporters requires getting to the bottom line quickly, and as a quota, as you can. Send supporting data, facts, and backup information after you are sure you have delivered your message. Try to make your message as accessible as you can for the greatest number of people (no jargon, slang, or “in language”) and if you are telling a story, make sure it is a short one that makes the point you really want to make.
Practice, practice, and practice: it takes time to get comfortable with developing messages, reducing them to some well-spoken statements, and sticking to messages through questions. No matter which journalist you speak with, trade, local, regional or national, print or broadcast, follow the same process of knowing who you are talking to, for what reasons, and determining what you want to say.