Mastering media interviews

Bloggers. Newspaper writers. Television and radio reporters. Clients often want to know why some of their peers with the same or even lesser expertise get more interview time or media presence with these groups. The well-quoted individual may have been hard at work for years on achieving that enhanced level of recognition or may just be better at responding and standing out favorably when the press calls. Repetitive media mentions that support your area of skills are valuable in creating your personal brand awareness and a reputation that can yield increased business. The same approach is true for organizations.

Inclusion in informational stories can lead to other media opportunities. Once reporters know who you are, they may also occasionally contact you to respond on more controversial topics. This can be an interesting experience in this age of social media, as even the seemingly safe interview may reach a sour note and your words may spread virally (exponentially.) How is your success achieved? Thoughtful preparation is key for both the routine and potentially challenging media scenarios.

To gain favorable recognition with media, always return a call or email from the inquiring reporter promptly. Reporters are often on deadline and even with the current 24/7 news cycle, there is little time for them to rest. A simple tweet may prompt them to get an expert quote almost any time of the day.

Helpful and quick responses may open the door to your future call-backs, too. This is part of relationship building with the media. Of course, if you are unsure how to respond, or just need time to think, take down their main questions and ask to get right back to them. Then you will need to call back at the promised time. Radio and television producers also are busy and want to get their airtime schedules set up quickly. Additionally, if you are scheduled to go "on air," arrive early to the studio and get comfortable with the setting or environment before you are interviewed.

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Do's and don'ts

Here are just a few more time-tested media do's and don'ts:

- Do state your message in a positive way negative comments turn people off. Since multiple people may be interviewed, state your message early and feel free to repeat it. Also, it is always good to put your message in context answer the question but phrase into, "But the bigger issue here isâ?¦" Prepare and prioritize the three or four points you want to make in advance you may not have much time to get them out otherwise.

-The concept of "sound bites" is good here create interesting and memorable but very brief versions of your points. These are usually the words that get quoted.

-If you are going to be on air, memorize the points as you will likely not be able to use prepared notes. Then practice them. Repeatedly.

-Whether on stage or on the phone, do not be flippant take the interview seriously.

-Avoid too much speculation. It's OK to say, "I don't know" to some aspect of the inquiry and offer to respond later if it is something you can ascertain through research.

-Never say "no comment." Ever. Better to give a simple statement like, "I regret I can't respond right now due to pending litigation but I will follow up when I can." Or, "I would like to be able respond but I can't break client confidentiality on that question."

-And, of course, never lie.

Reporters appreciate sincere interviewees who help them create meaningful content for their audiences. Your goal is to achieve print, electronic or broadcast time that will show you as a knowledgeable, helpful, interesting and informative professional. And in so doing, you'll help grow your brand.

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Glenda LeGendre is principal of Strategic Marketing and Communications and can be reached at glegendre@comcast.net.

Published: Fri, Nov 24, 2017

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