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The Media Interview, Part One: Follow the Boy Scouts' Motto
I've watched groups fret over the wording in news releases only to have the resulting media coverage miss the message, because the spokespersons handled the interviews poorly. This issue of "PR Tip of the Month" is the first in a series discussing media interviews: how to prepare, what to consider, dos and don'ts. In this issue and next, I'll provide information relevant to all types of news media. Later issues will provide information specifically for TV and radio.
The Boy Scouts' motto rings true for media interviews. Preparation is the most important step. Start by finding out why you were selected to be interviewed. Was it the result of your company's release? If so, ask the reporter or producer scheduling the interview if there is additional information you should plan to provide. If you are being contacted for another reason, ask about the topic and purpose of the interview. How will the interview be used? What is the angle of the story being covered? Don't ask reporters to provide you questions in advance. They won't. However, it's O.K. to ask for clarification regarding the information they want.
Learn About the Reporter and the Media Outlet
Hopefully, you are a reader, listener or viewer of the media outlet who will be interviewing you. If not, go online and read a few of the reporter's recent articles. Try to get a sense of his or her style and approach. If it's a radio or TV interview, listen or watch the station's news or the program for which you'll be interviewed. If you don't have enough time to do that, visit the station's web site. Read its news pages including the biographical information about the news team.
Plan Answers to Questions You May Be Asked
Think of a few questions you may be asked. Write down answers. While you don't want to sound like you are reciting a memorized speech, knowing in advance what you want to say will help prevent stumbling or forgetting an important point.
In the next issue of "PR Tip of the Month" you'll learn more about answering interview questions. Also visit Cuclis PR's web site for additional interview tips.