You’ve landed an interview with a journalist. Congratulations! But how are you going to make the most of the opportunity? Here are a few more of our top tips.
Be prepared: We can’t stress enough how important this is. Take the time to think through your opinions and talking points then put those opinions and talking points under the microscope. Are they really valid? Are they defensible? Just as importantly (if not more so!), are they interesting? At the very least, you should be able to express them in a really interesting way. The next test is to make sure you can support your opinions with evidence, experience or preferably both.
Ask questions: It’s perfectly okay to ask the journalist for information about the interview before it actually takes place and this will give you the opportunity to think about what you want to say, answer to the best of your ability and avoid surprises. Information the journalist is likely to share with you include the topic and perhaps the angle or line of questioning they are taking. Asking to see the actual questions they intend asking you prior to the interview is also completely fine, but a journalist is not obliged to provide them.
Play 20 questions: If the actual questions haven’t been provided to you, make up your own! Once you know the angle the journalist is taking, write down 10 questions you think they might ask you and then prepare your answers. Have a friend or colleague ask you these questions and practice responding to them. Then think of 10 more difficult questions and follow the same process. This will not only help you respond appropriately to a journalist’s questions, it should also decrease the chance of you making any off-the-cuff and potentially damaging remarks.
Practice makes perfect: If you are still nervous, practice expressing yourself in front of the mirror. Mirrors are great because they reveal all those facial expressions you make when you talk that you don’t even know about. Practising in front of a mirror can help you see if what you say in words matches your body language.
During the interview: This is where all that time your invested in preparing for the interview will pay off. Try to remain calm, stick to the points you want to make and try not to go off on a tangent, in a direction you don’t want to take.
Give yourself time to answer: If you’re not totally sure of your answer and you need to give yourself some thinking time (we call it “think music”), ask the journalist to repeat or rephrase the question for you. It’s also perfectly okay to say you simply haven’t thought about the question and can’t answer it right now.
Remember the real audience: You might be talking to a journalist, but they are not your real audience, they are the conduit to it. Your real audience is the one who reads what the journalist writes or watches or listens to what the journalist says. These are the people you really want to reach. It may therefore by helpful to think of journalists as translators for what you want to tell your market.
Anything further to add: At the end of the interview, most journalists will ask if there is anything else you would like to add. Even if there is nothing else you want to say about the topic at hand, this is a golden opportunity to talk about another issue you want to raise or briefly mention another interesting development in your business. Journalists are always looking for their next story, so if you can, give them more than they’ve asked for.
This article is an extract from 64 Media’s “Talking to the Media” ebook. Email or call for your free copy.