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Top tips for nailing your next media interview

By Mikela Dennison, Senior Account Executive @ The Clarity Business

In the past two weeks, we've worked with several of our clients who were looking to engage with the media and achieve coverage to get their message across to the right audience.
Our clients' stories and messages were covered across television, radio, print and online, representing the range of platforms that can be used to communicate a message and connect with your audience.

Whether you are a media novice or you are a seasoned interviewee, it always pays to keep in mind that the goal of an interview is to communicate your key messages to the public via a media outlet. It's all about being clear, getting your point across, and being interesting to the audience.

This flurry of media activity served as a timely reminder to us about how important it is to get the basics of media interaction right, so in this post we offer some top tips for working with media to ensure you nail your next media interview. There is more to a good media interview than turning up and looking good (although that does help).

So grab a coffee (or a wine if you are that way inclined), and check out Clarity's top tips for doing a winning media interview.

Keys to a good positive interview

  • Understand why you are being interviewed. Find out what the topic and angle of the interview will be. How will the interview be used - for a news story, a current affairs feature or an entertainment piece?
  • Think about what you want to say before you speak. Define two to three main points you would like to make about your subject. Gather facts, figures, and anecdotes to support your points. Anticipate questions the reporter might ask and have responses ready. Practice.
  • Be confident. You are the expert. You know this stuff!
What journalists want

  • You to be good 'talent' – i.e. you say something short, interesting and memorable that they can use. If you perform well, you are more likely to be asked back in the future.
  • Perspective and the big picture (i.e., How many people are affected? Is this part of a national trend?).
  • If you can provide the reporter with a written summary of information, main points or statistics, do so.
Before the interview

  • Prepare what you plan to say - and dress carefully if it's a TV interview (avoid white shirts - solid, dark colours work best).
  • Find out: What is the interview format / length / live or taped / solo or multi-guests? When will it appear or be broadcast?
  • Before the camera or tape recorder rolls, talk to your interviewer. Ask about the story they are doing and what questions they intend to ask you, particularly the first question – so you can prepare.
During the interview

  • If you feel unprepared to answer a certain question, tell the reporter you will get back to him/her with an answer.
  • Be enthusiastic. Anything less sounds 'dead' in a broadcast environment. Smile! Whether it's broadcast, print or online, an interview is a performance – people are drawn to an enthusiastic and friendly persona.
  • Keep responses brief, but long enough to help the reporter get quotes. It helps to repeat their question in your answer so your comment can be used without a preamble.
Phone Tips

  • If you are doing an interview by phone try and do it from a quiet place or in a room where you can close the door. Outside noises can disturb the interview and are problematic when the interview is being recorded.
  • Ask the reporter for feedback to ensure they understand you. With no eye contact or body language, this can prevent misunderstanding.
  • Use your notes, particularly if you are referring to figures - no one is watching!
A few other tips that we would add to our shortlist are:

  • Let people in your client organisation know that one of their team is being interview or if a story is going to appear so that they can watch, listen or read, share links via LinkedIn, Twitter and the staff intranet so that everyone is on the same page and maximising the reach of the content. You might even send the link to your own clients or customers.
  • Avoid waiting for a certain question to be asked: if you are waiting for an opportunity to say your key message, the chance may well fail to arise. You need to be proactive and be prepared to get your message across even if the specific question isn't asked – it's ok to say, "I would also add", or "The thing to keep in mind is this".
  • Be aware of swivel chairs in a television interview – turning from side to side can be distracting to the viewer, and can also make you seem uncertain or unconfident. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and resist the urge to swivel!
Done well, a good media interview can lead to an ongoing opportunity to give comments and get coverage for your organisation. We are focused on helping you to achieve positive coverage and create a long-term relationship with the right media.

Do you have any tips to add or questions to ask? Let us know your approach to media interviews in the comments section below or via LinkedIn.

If you and your business could benefit from media training, press release creation, or you want to find out where the opportunities are for you to shape your message in the media landscape, get in touch with George at: george@theclaritybusiness.co.nz or Mikela at: mikela@theclaritybusiness.co.nz to get the ball rolling.