Top 10 Media Interview Tips

While media continues to evolve and consumers shift to digital platforms for their news, earned media remains a top strategy to build brand awareness, credibility and thought leadership. Whether you are new to conducting media interviews or a spokesperson guru, it’s always helpful to revisit the basics.  

  1. Be professional at all times. Interviews are not conversations. Reporters represent the public and will sometimes ask hard or even deliberately leading questions to elicit an emotional or sensational response. Be professional at all times; do not slip into a conversational mode. 
  1. Set the agenda for what you want to get across in an interview. Select a few key points/messages (1-3) and be certain to cover them regardless of what specific questions the reporter may ask. 
  1. Steer the interview in the direction you choose. Just as a reporter can ask virtually any question, you can use a reporter’s question to discuss the area you want covered. This is a legitimate technique for conveying your key messages. Use discretion when doing so to ensure you do not avoid a question entirely.  
  1. Reporters are not necessarily experts. Do not assume they will know anything – yet alone everything – about you, your company or your topics. Provide them with good, concise background material (prior to or after an interview). 
  1. Reporters come in all personality types. Do not put them all in any one category – “democratic,” “republican” or “out to get a sensational story.” And do not assume the same reporter will always have the same approach.  
  1. There is no such thing as “off the record.” If you do not want something to appear in print or on the air, do NOT say it. 
  1. Control your emotions. Before and during interviews: breathe deeply…take time to gather your thoughts…be serious when appropriate and animated when appropriate.
  1. Do not answer a question that you do not know how to answer. Tell the reporter you will get back to him/her as soon as possible. Call back as soon as possible with the requested information. 
  1. Be honest and truthful. Your credibility depends upon it. If you cannot divulge certain information, say so, and state why (i.e. client confidentiality). Do NOT say “no comment”; it will appear that you are withholding information or not being honest. 
  1. Dress appropriately at all times. You represent yourself and your company. Your overall appearance reflects upon you and the organization. If an interview is in the evening after hours you should still be dressed professionally.

Jennifer Manocchio


After starting her career with Edelman in Chicago, Jennifer joined Sweeney and quickly established herself as an exceptional industry innovator. In 2004, she opened Sweeney’s first full-service office outside of Cleveland and quickly rose through the ranks to become agency president. Jen leads by example and without fear. She has been critical to agency growth throughout the past decade and continues to lead the agency into the future.