By: Jim McShea, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations
You’ve done it. A story you’ve pitched has generated interest from a media outlet, and the reporter is on their way over for an interview. Now you must make sure you can express your message clearly, and succinctly.
Here are some tips that can help:
- Articulate your message. You’re not there to just answer questions, you’re there to get your message across. Once you determine your message, stick with it, and work it into your responses to the reporter’s questions.
- Keep your answers short and concise. Your interview may take a while, but for a typical story, reporters are looking for soundbites that run between 10 and 20 seconds.
- Try not to talk too fast or ramble. Keep your audience in mind by speaking in familiar terms. Avoid technical jargon.
- Never assume that the reporter knows what you’re talking about. Though they are trained professionals, they are not necessarily experts on all that they cover. Many times, they rely on the interview that you are giving for facts and commentary. Depending on the medium, reporters can have anywhere from several weeks to only a few hours to research stories. Take the time to make sure a reporter understands what you’re saying.
- Don’t speculate. Your credibility depends on accuracy. If you don’t know an answer, say so. Offer to research the answer and make sure to follow up.
Before your interview, there are a few things to keep in mind: make sure to practice your responses ahead of time. Practicing will allow you to fine tune your message and become comfortable with your answers. If you’re taking part in an interview for television, make sure to concentrate on the interviewer, not the camera. Also, maintain eye contact with the interviewer and smile, if appropriate. Look your best and choose your outfit wisely. Avoid multiple patterns (such as stripes or checkers), or colors since cameras can render them oddly.
Most importantly, believe in yourself! If you need to ask someone for advice beforehand, great, but when the interview begins, you’re on your own.