Congratulations! You’ve done your media outreach correctly and now, a journalist wants to interview you.
If you’re like most people, this will be a “happy problem” for you. You’re excited to get exposure, but at the same time, you’re nervous about nailing the interview and appearing in media, especially if it’s a live interview on radio or TV.
To help ease your fears, here is a checklist for your interview:
Never go into an interview without a clear idea of what you want to accomplish with it. Do you want to announce a new product or service? Clear up a misunderstanding? Publicize the results of a study? Write down your main objective and, if applicable, your sub-objectives.
Date, time, venue
Double-check the date, time and venue for the interview. If the interviewer will be in a different location, make sure you have your time zones straightened out. If you miss this interview due to logistical confusion, it may be very hard to get this opportunity again. One of the things we like to do for clients is record the interview if possible, so that we can review the questions asked and refine our answers for the future. You can use a service like freeconference.com to host conference calls and record it at the same time.
Do some research on the media outlet that’s interviewing you. Who’s their audience? What tone do they usually have? Our PR firm works with technology clients and we often remind our clients that a business reporter at a newspaper has a very different audience than a technology reporter at a technical magazine.
However, in both cases, we ask our clients to explain things without jargon, in simplest terms “as if you are talking to your grandmother.” It doesn’t make you look stupid, you want the reporter to follow you along and be able to ask intelligent and in-depth questions as they see fit for their audience.
If your key messages or supporting messages include statistics and other data, double check them to make sure they’re correct. Also have data sources on hand, because journalists are likely to ask where you got them. Choose a few data points or statistics that speak to the size of the market you are competing in, the opportunity you see in the market for your company and if you are willing to disclose it, sales figures or forecasts that show a growth uptick for your company.
Anticipate Questions and Prepare Key Messages
Make a list of questions you think the journalist will ask you. Most likely the key questions will center around your company, what your product or service does, how it works, who do you help and how are you different from others in the market. Also think of questions that relate to current events, controversial questions, and other questions that may put you on the spot.
Prepare bullet points for each question that you may want to convey in the interview. Just listing two or three points to remind you of key messages that contribute to your objectives, and that are appropriate to the media’s audience.
If you’re going to appear in a TV interview, know beforehand what the program’s set looks like. You don’t want to match the sofa. Avoid big, bold prints but don’t be afraid to wear colors that brighten up your skin tone.
Make sure you have the journalist’s contact information, including cellphone number if they will give it to you, and vice versa. You never know when something unexpected may come up. If something does detain you, you wouldn’t want to keep the reporter waiting.
Prepare a media kit with relevant background information, photos, and other materials the journalist may find useful in preparing the news story. After the interview, follow up as soon as possible with the reporter with anything they asked you for.
Finally, if the interview didn’t go as well as you hoped, send the reporter a note saying “I think this may not have come across today…” or “I may have missed telling you about…” and send them the key things you want to get across.
Use this checklist to be well prepared for your next media interview and let me know how it goes!
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe now and get new posts either via RSS feed or your email. Please click on the RSS button below or type your primary email address below and click "Subscribe."