A great media interview isn't as simple as it sounds.
(article continues below)
Although it's tempting to treat a media interview like a normal conversation, an effective media interview is actually a highly-structured and highly-organized PR event.
Further complicating the task of media interviews is the fact that you and the interviewer usually have different goals. The journalist is focused on digging up a compelling news story – and he doesn't care whether or not his story has PR value for your business.
Your goal for a media interview is to leverage the journalist's story as a tool for communicating carefully devised messages to the public. If you walk into the interview unprepared, the journalist already has the upper hand.
Here's the information you need to tip the scales in your favor:
- Have a plan. It's bad form to request the list of questions before the interview. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't approach the interview without a plan. Develop several key points you want to emphasize during the interview and be prepared to talk about them intelligently.
- Take control. From the outset, use body language to indicate that you're in control of the interview. Repeatedly bring the conversation back to the key points you developed before the interview.
- Maintain eye contact. A media interview is not like a typical conversation. Unlike a conversation with a friend or coworker, you'll need to maintain eye contact with the interviewer at all times. If you shift your eyes away from the journalist, he'll read it as a sign that you're being evasive or that you aren't telling the whole story.
- Speak to the public, not the reporter. The reporter or journalist is really just a conduit to the general public. If you use industry jargon or technical words to impress the reporter, you've completely missed the point. A better approach is to employ words that are easily understood by laypeople.
- Crawl before you walk. Media interviewing is a learned skill. The more you do it, the better you become at staying on message. If you haven't done media interviews before, proactively seek out opportunities with small media outlets to gain experience.