The key to media interviews is being prepared and knowing what to say and what not to say. Below are 10 tips to help you prepare for and control your media interviews.
1. Be professional at all times. Interviews are not conversations. Remember that reporters represent the public and will sometimes ask hard or even deliberately leading questions to elicit an emotional or sensational response from you. Be professional at all times; do not slip into a conversational mode.
2. Set the agenda on what you want to get across in an interview. Select a few key points and be certain to cover them regardless of what specific questions the reporter may ask.
3. Steer the interview in any direction you choose. If you are good at it, you can use a reporter’s questions to springboard to the area you want covered. This is a legitimate technique for conveying your key messages.
4. Reporters are not necessarily experts. More often they are generalists. Do not assume they will know anything, yet alone everything about your area of expertise. Provide them with good, concise background material prior to or after an interview.
5. Reporters come in all personality types. Do not put them all in any one category – “friends of your company” or “out to get a sensational story.” And do not assume the same reporter will always have the same approach.
6. 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.
7. Control your emotions. Before and during interviews: breathe deeply…take tie to gather your thoughts…be serious when appropriate and animated when appropriate.
8. 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.
9. Tell the truth. If you do not, your credibility is ruined. If you cannot absolutely divulge information, say so, and state why. Do NOT say “no comment”; it will appear that you are not being honest or withholding information.
10. Dress appropriately at all times. You represent your company. Your overall appearance reflects upon you, upon your center and upon the corporation.