By Rachel Peck
As PR professionals, one of our main functions is to pitch, or seek out, interview opportunities for our clients. In addition to that, we might have to also identify the best representatives for our clients’ businesses and assist them by offering them the tools they’ll need to effectively convey brand messaging. This offering by many PR agencies has become increasingly important, as the rise of video interviews, digital forums and social media have made it easier for in-the-moment reactions, technical difficulties and other snafus to occur. While not many of us will be conducting in-person interviews for the foreseeable future, setting clients up for success by paying careful attention to the details of virtual interviews, events and webinars is key.
Preparation is key
Even though in-person interviews are either rare or non-existent due to COVID-19, you should still prepare for these opportunities like you would as if you were meeting with someone face to face. At Eclipse Media Group, we’ve long been fans of media briefs as a way to prepare clients for both in-person and virtual interviews. These documents can be formatted in any way that makes sense for the client, but should include basic publication information, as well as the writer’s previous interactions with your client and any applicable past coverage of your client or on a topic similar to what will be discussed during the interview. Additionally, this brief should include key messages that should be conveyed during the interview, as well as overall brand messaging. Included in your media materials should be notes on the writer’s tone, style and typical line of questioning.
Outside of background preparation, some clients might benefit from a few interview practice runs. Oftentimes, an interviewee can feel more uncomfortable speaking through a device than they would face-to-face. Consider discussing this possibility beforehand and developing an action plan that might make them feel more at ease. It’s important that the interviewees are comfortable and able to clearly articulate key messaging, without being distracted by their device.
Make the most of your video interview
Though you’ll prepare for these interviews much like you would an in-person (preparing a media brief, reporter research, etc.) there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind. Make sure you choose a virtual platform that is available for all parties involved – some corporations might block certain platforms or limit access to others due to data privacy restrictions. Once you’ve chosen the platform, if you’re choosing to record the interview, you’ll have to prepare your interviewee and interviewer for this and gain permissions beforehand.
Part of your prep for a video interview should also be basic video etiquette, such as limiting certain video filters, making sure any background noise is reduced – while also acknowledging that interruptions more often than not will happen. If your client is participating in a roundtable discussion or a webinar, consider holding a format walkthrough beforehand so that everyone knows what to expect from the logistics of how the event will be managed. Finally, the simplest step is to ensure you have a backup plan in case of network connectivity issues or other technical difficulties.
Not only will going through the details of these events result in a more seamless interview process, but it can help settle any uncertainties your client might have. Make sure you supply your client with as much information as needed, or even prep by conducting a scenario training session. With a little preparation and practice, your client will feel they have all the tools required to give an outstanding, succinct interview.