By Julie Bennett
In order to feed our insatiable appetite for up-to-the-minute information, news stories often have to be told more-or-less as they happen. This can be quite a task. The nature of a journalist’s work means they are pretty much always on deadline.
If you’re being interviewed, anything you can do to help the journalist is therefore likely to be appreciated. As AstuteWheel’s Michael Topper said in our last Centre Stage with 64 Media podcast, simply being helpful can go a long way.
This might include providing the journalist with other information (statistics, data, case studies, etc.) that helps them develop the story. If you have interesting graphics that illustrate the points you are making, offer to forward them. On a side note, send them your profile pic – it will help them to remember who you are and what you had to say, and it might even be published along with the article.
If you notice a story unfolding online and have an opinion on it, you could comment on it. Journalists (particularly the one who has written the story) usually read the comments section and when those comments open up a new angle, they may decide to write a follow-up piece and call for your input. You might even consider giving them a call yourself, particularly if you’ve already had interaction with the journalist.
As obvious as this sounds, when a journalist calls, make yourself available. If you really can’t do the interview straight away, or need time to think about the topic, ask if you can call them back. Just be aware that if you put that call-back time too far into the future, you’re likely to miss the opportunity altogether.
That said, it’s better to miss an opportunity than miss a deadline. Make sure you know the deadline and either meet it or tell them you can’t this time but would love to talk on another topic/at another time.
Of course, there are always caveats around talking to journalists. You obviously shouldn’t talk on topics you haven’t prepared for and there might be legal, human resources or other reasons why you can’t talk to certain issues.
But generally speaking, you want to build a reputation with journalists for being a reliable interviewee, so as we’ve said before, be prepared.
Take the time to think about your opinions and talking points, put those opinions under the microscope, learn how to express them in a compelling way and don’t be afraid to show a little personality. You don’t have to put on a song and dance routine (probably better if you don’t, actually 😉 just be you.