Today’s guest post comes from Alison Podworski of Alison May Public Relations. She’s a former news reporter, a current PR Pro, a mom of three and a super smart businesswoman! Be sure to connect with her on Twitter @AlisonMayPR.
Imagine this: You just heard from your public relations team and a reporter wants to interview you about the new product you just launched. Are you ready? Let’s hope so, because they’ll be there in 10 minutes. Believe it or not, sometimes that’s how it works!
A great interview with the media can do amazing things for your brand – but it’s tough to have a successful interview when you aren’t well prepared. And by prepared, I don’t mean having your elevator speech memorized. It takes a lot of time and commitment to ensure you are polished. Here are some media interview tips to help you prepare effectively and feel confident for your next media appearance.
8 Media Interview Tips to Help You ACE Your Next Coverage Opportunity
1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Know exactly what message you want to convey within your interview. Come up with two or three points that are clear and concise. If the interview is based on a current event and the media is using you as a source, read up on everything possible on that topic. Know your stuff!
2. Role Play
There is no better way to prepare for a media interview than role-playing. Set up a video camera and record. Your publicist will ask you the basic questions, then try to trip you up. I know, it’s not fun, but it will help you to feel better prepared for whatever questions may come up in the real interview. After you’re finished, watch the video (this is the hardest part). By doing this, you’ll see and hear how you appear on camera – the good and bad. From there you can work with your publicist to correct anything that needs tweaking.
3. Look the Part
I know it sounds vain, but if you’re on TV or being photographed for a print publication, you want to look good. Gentleman, make sure you are shaved, your hair is cut and you wear a nice outfit. Please, no crazy shirt patterns, the cameras don’t like them. Wear a crisp, clean suit or nice shirt with a jacket. Ladies, you’ll need to wear a lot more makeup than normal. If you were my client, I would suggest that you go to a makeup consultant to ensure that you’re wearing the right colors and are applying it properly. It may seem like too much, but trust me … you’ll look fabulous on camera.
4. Look at the Reporter
When you are being interviewed for TV, your initial instinct may be to look straight at the camera. Nope, don’t do it. You aren’t shooting a TV commercial. Look at the reporter when answering his or her questions and you’ll be good.
5. Don’t Ramble
If you ramble on and on in your answers, it gives the impression that you are nervous or unprepared. Be informative, but concise. Studies show that the average sound bite is 7-10 seconds. That’s not a lot of time to get your message across, so choose your words carefully. During my time as a reporter, it was always hard to edit a sound bite when the interviewee’s answers were too lengthy. Also, express emotion in your answers. There is nothing better than a powerful and emotional sound bite. Great sound bites sometimes even end up in news promos.
Pretend the reporter is a customer or client. I know it’s easier said than done, but it really helps. I see people trying to memorize what they want to get across (like how we used to study for tests in school) and that gets them sidetracked. I always tell my clients to just imagine that they’re talking to a client. When they do that, it’s amazing how comfortable they look and sound.
7. More Than a Talking Head
When you are doing a TV interview, plan ahead to have b-roll (a.k.a. video footage) for the reporter. They need video to fill your story. As cute as you are, nobody wants to look at a talking head for 45 to 90 seconds. For example, if you’re the owner of a fitness club, provide the media with clips of people working out on equipment or a fitness class. It makes the reporter’s job easier, since now they don’t have to go into the archives and find generic video of people working out. The same applies to print publications; make sure you provide photos relevant to your product or brand, and be aware that the media may want to send a photographer to capture the shots they need.
8. Believe in Yourself
Not everyone is comfortable on camera, and that’s okay. That’s why you prepare, role-play and practice. It takes time to feel comfortable doing interviews and being on camera.
Just know that all of the work is worth it because when you look polished, give great sound bites/quotes and provide b-roll, you make the reporter’s job easier. They will remember that … and guess who they’re calling the next time they need an expert to interview?
What are your best media interview tips? Share your best (or worst!) interview experiences in the comments below!
Alison Podworski is the owner of Alison May Public Relations, a boutique firm based in Massachusetts. As a former television news reporter and producer, Alison gives her clients that inside edge by knowing when, why and how to pitch to the media. Alison encourages her clients to think outside the box, be bold and do what everyone else is not doing. When Alison is not working, she is with her three beautiful daughters.