How to Give an Impressive Interview
You've been contacted for a media interview. Even though the reporter and his/her editor have the final say over what gets printed or aired, it is possible to influence the situation if you are prepared.
Follow Cuclis PR's Lucky 13 Interview Tips to help ensure what the media reports reflects your message or opinions. At the end of the list, there are additional tips for handling an unscheduled telephone interview.
The Lucky 13 Interview Tips
- Know the Reporter's Agenda
Ask what the focus and scope of the interview will be. However, don't ask what specific questions the reporter will ask because he/she won't tell you.
- Plan Ahead
Prepare for the interview by thinking up some questions you may be asked. Practice the answers.
- Be Concise
Keep your answers short and to the point. Brevity is especially important for television and radio. However, don't simply say yes or no.
- Don't Use Jargon
Try to stick with words most people would understand. If you must use unusual terms, explain them.
- Make a Significant Statement
This should be your goal! If possible, incorporate the question into your answer to create a quotable statement.
- Use Facts and Specifics
Your opinion becomes an expert opinion when it's reinforced with data. Provide exact dates, figures, statistics, events and names. Give an interesting or funny example to illustrate a point.
- Don't Sound Like a Commercial
Hard sell statements will get edited out of the story and the reporter will be reluctant to interview you again.
- Repeat Your Main Point(s)
You can say them different ways to make sure they get across.
- Only Say What You Want to See in Print or Hear on the Air
Just because the microphone or tape recorder is off, doesn't mean the reporter won't repeat something you say. Also, a reporter's goal is to get you to say everything on the record, so don't offer off the record information.
- Never Say "No Comment"
You will look as you have something to hide. Instead say, "I can not provide, or release, that information at this time." Briefly explain why. Or, if you don't know the answer, simply say so.
- Be Honest
You must be truthful to be credible. If you don't know the answer to a question, say so.
- Be Positive
Negative statements tend to reflect poorly on you. Emphasize your strong points, not your competition's weak ones.
- Be Cooperative and Courteous
Strive to develop a positive relationship with the reporter so he/she will want to interview you again. Plus, if you are pleasant and fun to interview, the resulting publicity is more likely to be positive. End the interview by saying thank you.
Special Considerations for Unscheduled Telephone Interviews
Keep Your News Release and Supporting Material By Your Phone
If you have sent out a news release, you may be called and asked questions over the phone. Be ready by having all your information handy.
If the Reporter Has Called You At a Bad Time, Ask "When Is Your Deadline?"
It is O.K. to politely tell the reporter that it's not convenient to talk right now, and you would be happy to call back by his/her deadline. Do this if you don't feel comfortable with the situation. This gives you the opportunity to collect your thoughts.
Find Out What the Focus of the Story Will Be, Before the Reporter Starts Asking Questions
This is helpful if you are called to give your "expert" opinion or reaction to a news item. You may want to have time to look up information, or consider your opinion, before proceeding with answering questions. If so, see #1 above.