Media Interviews Tips & Tricks

By Chelsie Woods
Much like a job interview, being interviewed by the media should involve important preparation to ensure optimal results. To prepare, it’s important to keep a few things in mind before going on the record, whether it’s with a reporter from your local newspaper or a trade industry publication.

Do your homework

Always expect that everything you share with the reporter will be on the record and be prepared to back up your statements with statistics, anecdotes or supporting facts. Reporters like to interview sources who can provide them with quotable and valuable information that supports their story. For a reporter, it can be difficult to put together a credible article with unnamed sources and vague information. Numbers and examples should be used whenever possible to clearly answer the question the reporter asks.

Know who you are talking to

Before your interview, spend some time learning a little more about the publication and the reporter. What topics has this reporter covered previously and how familiar is the reporter with the story or subject matter he is covering? Understanding the readership audience of the publication will ensure you’re providing usable and relatable answers. For example, in the security market, some publications are written for corporate security directors vs. security system integrators. This can make a difference in the type of information you share as you want to make sure what you say is relevant to the audience and the article.

Prepare your key messaging

While reporters are not looking for a product pitch when they interview a source, from time to time there may be an opportunity to speak specifically about your company and solutions. Be prepared to speak in a way that highlights what makes your company or solution different from others in the market and why this is important within the industry. If you can share your key messaging as part of this interview, and it is included in the article, that will further reinforce your other marketing efforts.

Provide concise answers

Reporters are often on a deadline and faced with more information than they need to write their story. Provide clear and concise answers to assist with the flow of the interview, while simultaneously giving you some control of the interview. When answering a reporter’s question, try to answer in two or three sentences as opposed to a 10 minute response. This gives the reporter the opportunity to ask a follow-up question if needed. Also, remember when you start a comment to finish that comment. Reporters are always looking for comments that are quote worthy and you can do this by providing examples, numbers and highlighting trends.

Find a quiet space

Today most interviews take place over the phone and not face to face. Because of this, it is easy to get distracted by emails coming into your computer or from background noise. Find somewhere to go that is quiet for your interview – close your office door or head to the conference room. Also, close your computer and turn off text notifications on your mobile device, if you can. Reporters want to have your undivided attention, but you, as a subject matter expert, also want to bring your A game to each interview.

Being interviewed by a magazine or a newspaper can provide an exciting opportunity to tell your company’s story or to share your expertise on a specific topic or industry trend. By following these simple steps, you should be well-prepared for your next interview.

— Chelsie Woods is one of two founding owners of Eclipse Media Group. She has nearly two decades of public relations and writing experience in the technology and security industries and worked as a reporter for three newspapers in Maine.