6 Questions to Ask a Journalist

So you have done it! Proverbial success: you did your homework, picked the right journalist, sent a great pitch and now they have called you to set up an interview.

Now what?  There are six key questions you should ask media every time to ensure you maximize every media interview and increase your potential to landing a story.

1. What is the focus of your story? In some instances a reporter may be looking for an expert resource on a broader trend story, while in others they may want to cover your company for a feature article.  Find out right away the purpose for the interview so you or your company spokesperson is prepared to fill the proper role.

2. When is your deadline?  Find out right away when the reporter needs to speak with you or your spokesperson and when they need to turn in their final story. Then, schedule an interview that gives you or your spokesperson time to plan.

3.  Do you have any preliminary questions or interview guidelines you would like us to review before the interview? Many journalists have a very specific idea of the type of information they need during an interview.  If they can provide questions or topic guidelines to review in advance of an interview, you can be prepared to provide the best information most likely to make it into the story. This can be particularly effective when journalists are looking for tech focused or in-depth information that may require you or your spokesperson to conduct some research.  Also, this helps to ensure you can naturally weave your talking points into the interview.

4.  Would you like photos or images to accompany the story? Whether it is a headshot, product or application photo or even a chart or graph that helps illustrates key data, journalists like to incorporate visuals that capture the reader’s attention and enhance the story.

5. What days and times are you available for an interview?  Journalists often work on multiple stories with various deadlines at once.  If you are scheduling an interview for someone other than yourself, determine a journalist’s availability before hanging up the phone.

6. What is the best method (phone, email, Twitter, etc.) for getting back in touch? If you are not conducting the interview, chances are you need to determine when your spokesperson is available.  Once you do, you will need to get back in touch with the journalist quickly to confirm the details of the interview, and you cannot afford for your message to be missed.

Also, no matter who is conducting the interview, once the interview is completed, follow up with the journalist to determine if they require any additional information or a follow up interview.

Need help launching a publicity and media relations campaign? Contact me at Kayleigh (at) sweeneypr (dot) com.


Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.