So you have finally received that call from the media- and they want to interview you about your expertise. Yay! But once you’ve given your high five done a twirl and hit the sofa, it’s time to get practical and start the preparation.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”, so says the infamous quote by Benjamin Franklin – and it couldn’t apply more than when delivering an interview to the broadcast media of TV and radio.
Although you’ll only be on air for short quotes if interviewed for a news report or be on air for a couple of minutes for a studio interview or discussion, thousands of people will be tuned in and watching/listening to you – so you and your company’s reputation is at stake. You want to get it right!
When media training my clients, the first thing I tell them to do when a journalists contacts them for an interview, is to find out what type of interview it is. Is it an on location interview, a pre recorded interview or a studio interview. Knowing which type of interview you’ll be taking part in will help relax you as you’ll know what to expect. (Check our my article about the different types of interviews for more info on these).
The second step is to ask the reporter if they can email you the questions or tell them to you over the phone. Most media interviews are non contentious so this should not be a problem. Whilst working for BBC Regions there were a number of occasions when I let the interviewee know what questions I would be asking or told them the direction the interview would be taking. It helped the interviewee deliver a better interview and made interviewing them a more simple process.
Once you have an idea of the questions you will be asked, it’s time to start thinking about answers. Think of the type of questions you might be asked by a reporter and construct a short answer for your response. Your replies also need to also illustrate the point you are making- to sound more persuasive and credible. So start to do your research for facts and figures related to the topic, personal examples to illustrate your point and prepare and stories to make your responses resonate with the audience. If you own a women’s fitness business for example and the reporter asks why you started it, an answer with a personal example could be as follows.
“I was very unfit and very overweight and decided I needed to exercise to help shift the pounds. But I felt very self conscious going to the gym. That’s when I had the idea for a women’s only gym so women could exercise more freely.”
Another persuasive technique is to use stories in your responses. An example of illustrating a point with a story is for example if a reporter asks you for the the response you have received by the community. Here you could use a success story to illustrate your point. For example:
“One woman who was very over weight and on the cusp of developing diabeties said that we saved her life. She was too embarrassed to work out in a mixed sex gym and found our women only policy a huge relief. She lost six stone.”
It’s also important to be familiar with the topic you are being interviewed about so that you are fully informed about the subject before hand. Always remember to anticipate any tricky questions that you might be asked.
Another great tool when delivering media interviews is to have strong facts and figures to emphasise your point of view. Do recall strong statistics that you can mention in response to a question to deliver an answer that packs a punch. Strong facts and figures are highly convincing and add gravitas to the point you are making. Used sparingly they add power to your responses.
Once you nail these areas, you should be ready to answer any questions the reporter throws your way…..And always remember those wise words by Mr Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”