Eight tips to help you during media interviews
Find out in advance what the reporter wants to speak to you about. Is it part of a bigger story? Is there a particular angle that he is interested in? Who else will the reporter be speaking to? And when will the story be published? It will help you to prepare.
Prepare well beforehand. Your most valuable tool will be your key messages and a well thought through question and answer brief that you can absorb in advance (don’t produce it during the interview). This should contain all the tricky questions that you don’t want the journalist to ask so that you have a properly constructed answer prepared. If you appear hesitant or uneasy about giving an answer to a question, the chances are that the journalist will continue to probe further. If you have a communications advisor then get them to help you and to rehearse the questions and answers with you.
During an interview clearly have the three key points in mind that you would like to have reported. Then stick to them and keep coming back to embellish them at every plausible opportunity. If you have more than three points the journalist is likely to make a selection and the ones he chooses may not be the most important.
Keep your audience in mind when you are providing an answer. Your audience is the reader or listener, not the reporter so make sure they will understand what you are saying.
Never tell a journalist that something is “off the record”. Even if he respects your request today, he may forget a few days later that he was told in confidence. If you don’t want something reported, simply don’t mention it.
Never try to guess an answer if you don’t know it. Admit that you don’t know and tell the journalist you will get back to him with a response as soon as you have had time to find out.
Never ever use the term “no comment”. Both the journalist and the reader will suspect you have something to hide.
Always respect a journalist’s deadline. If you promise to get back to him or her by a certain time try to do it well in advance of that deadline to give the journalist the opportunity to include your points in the story. His ‘deadline’ is usually the time by which he has to have finished the article by which time it is too late to include anything further from you.
These and many other tips and tricks are included in the media training courses that I offer.