If a reporter calls to do a story about you or is interested in getting your take on a particular issue, it might seem natural to just start talking. Well, that's the last thing you'd want to do.
Never agree to an interview until you've had time to prepare. Simple as that. So, here are a few tips for buying yourself a little time so that you can sound your best and convey your strongest message.
Have someone else handle the initial call if at all possible. If you have a public relations firm or department, the call should be directed to them. If not, you'll want your administrative assistant or someone else on staff to screen the call to get as much information as possible ahead of the interview. For example:
Go through a couple of mock interviews, ideally with an experienced media professional or a staff member.
In the meantime, look on the reporter's website to see the tone and level of expertise the reporter has shown in previous stories. Are the stories fair? Any hint of a bias?
Once you get the answers to these questions, you'll be able to make sure you have the necessary facts and figures in front of you, and you'll also be able to come up with key message points that you'll want to emphasize during the course of the interview.
Armed with this data and messaging, have someone prep you for the interview. Consider the likely questions and how you might respond. Go through a couple of mock interviews, ideally with an experienced media consultant or a staff member.
After all that, you can return the reporter's call. But, even then, don't start the interview. Take a moment to chat with the reporter. Find some common ground. Explain what areas you cannot talk about and why.
Now, you can start the interview. Keep your key message points in front of you. Stay positive. Your goal is to be a credible source and for the reporter to see you as someone to call again for future stories.
Mack Communications | @mack_comm