— Tips for Media Interviews
By Gloria Star
Preparation (Never Wing it, unless you have no choice!)
- Determine the nature of the interview. Learn about the publication, radio or television station, website, etc. affiliated with the interview.
- Know who will be interviewing you. Learn a little about your interviewer.
- Find out what the interviewer wants from you.
- Ask if there are particular questions for which you might need to be prepared.
- Determine the type of location for your interview and who else might be present.
- Set goals for the interview
- Consider what you want to communicate.
- Choose your primary objective for participating in the interview.
- Then, think of two or three secondary ideas or points you want to stress.
- Determine whether or not you will be allowed to provide the reporter with any information that might be helpful to the interview.
- When possible, practice!
- Rehearse with a friend or family member (or a professional).
- Take an opportunity to study your body language.
- Rehearsing or video recording can be an excellent opportunity to alter body language if necessary.
- Prepare material for the reporter/interviewer to take away from the interview. Also, ask if you may send materials in advance to your interviewer. Keep these materials professional and to the point.
For phone interviews, use a landline.
Dress for success. (Again, take a look in the mirror!)
You are the expert in a field about which little is generally known. Let this give you confidence!
Think before you speak.
Keep your answers and comments as succinct as possible.
Stay on Track!
Speak in complete thoughts. Leave nothing to the imagination!
Be friendly and pleasant. Surly is rarely good PR.
If you choose not to answer, try to offer a brief explanation. Remember: you don’t have to know everything! Or, you may not have studied that particular question or area. That can also be your response.
Be careful with humor. What is funny to you might not be understood as humor by a reporter.
Say only what you want to see on television, hear on the radio, or read online or in print. Nothing is ever really “off the record,” so forget that idea!
Take care with “nervous talk.” Sometimes, a moment of silence can give you a chance to regroup. This can help you avoid the opportunity to blather on about nothing.
Learn how to “Bridge.” First, answer a direct question. Then, use that opportunity to transition to your own message.
On television or video:
1. Absolutely avoid excessive body movements, like bouncing around, nervously bouncing legs or feet, tapping a table, playing with your hair, biting your lip, etc. This is one reason why it’s a good idea to rehearse in front of a mirror, with a friend, or with a video you can review. Be honest with yourself about what you discover. We all have room for improvement.
2. Look at the interviewer. Unless you are well-practiced, avoid trying to look into the camera. This can be disastrous. If you are part of a roundtable discussion, look at the person you are addressing.