As a marketer, it’s important to have the skills to not only write compelling press releases, but to be skilled at being interviewed by television, radio, podcasts, and video creators.
When talking to the media, only two things matter: what you say and how you say it.
What you say is more important than how you say it, but only slightly so. You want to be succinct, charming, and well spoken. While I worked for the SPCA of Northern Nevada, I regularly spoke with television and radio stations about adoptions, news, and events. If you’ve never spoken to the media professionally, don’t panic! I’m going to share some techniques that I learned through experience to make sure you glow in your next interview.
What you say
- Think like a news reporter – you probably wrote a press release to get the media’s attention, so be sure to keep thinking like a reporter would. What is the point of the story – always start with the why. Why was this event or news worthy of coverage? What effect does it have on the community?
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse – even for live interviews, try to think of the questions the reporter will be asking you. Sometimes, you can even request the questions in advance. The more you practice with coworkers, friends, and family, the more confident you will be.
- Plan out a sound bite and start with that – reporters are busy people and they have multiple stories to cover every day. Make it easy for them to choose what short clip to use from your interview by having a very well thought out sound bite that explains why the news is important, who you are, and who it effects in one quick punch. Start with that statement! Interviews are often 5-7 questions long, but the reporter is really only looking for one juicy line from you that they can build into their segment. You usually don’t have much say in what they choose to use, but if you plan it out ahead of time and say it well, they’ll most likely use it!
- If you mess up, politely ask if you can re-shoot that line – obviously this only works for interviews that aren’t live, but if you’re honest with your interviewer and ask to restate what you messed up on, they will usually let you! They want a polished interview just as much as you do.
- Banter – try to engage in a little light banter or to make a small joke if you’re able. Sometimes this isn’t appropriate depending on the subject matter, but if you are able to think of something that will be cute or heartwarming to work into the interview, try to do so. You generally want to make people smile.
How you say it
- Take a breath before you start each sentence – being interviewed can be an intimidating prospect. Your heart starts to race, your palms get sweaty, even if you’re just standing in the lobby of your business and there is only one reporter there with a camera. Remember to take an extra few seconds after they ask their question to take a breath and think before you speak. It will help settle your nerves and will make it easier to be well spoken.
- Slow down – this age-old adage is still very true. We know you’re a little nervous so be sure to speak more slowly than you think you should. The worst interviews are unintelligible, so be sure to speak more slowly than you think you need to – this will also allow you to think through what you’re saying!
- Pretend you’re talking to a professional colleague – be honest, relaxed, and open with your interviewer. Ignore the idea that more people will see it. Act as if you are just hanging out with a colleague, explaining why you’re excited about the news or event that is taking place.
- Keep a slight smile on your face – people like people who are smiling. Make an effort to smile in a relaxed, natural way.
- Watch your expressions/reactions – while you may be concentrating on what is being asked or may get thrown off by something the reporter says, keep your face neutral. You don’t want to appear to frown or look confused during the segment. You want to maintain composure so just be aware that if something goes wrong during the interview, you might be the only person to notice it, unless you let it show on your face.
- Try not to fidget or dart your eyes – keep as steady as possible. If you’re prone to fidgeting when you’re nervous, put a paperclip in your hand and you can play with that, but don’t move your arms or bounce on the balls of your feet. Keep yourself grounded during the interview.
- Listen intently – really listen to what the interviewer is asking and be sure to answer that particular question. They will often try to guide you into making a statement that will explain the situation fully to viewers. You want to be transparent and authentic so you need to answer their questions or it may seem like you are trying to hide something if you fail to answer.
- Try to laugh, but be genuine – fake laughter comes across clearly, so if you are able to laugh genuinely, do so! But don’t be fake.
Remember to keep a great relationship with the press. The more familiar and friendly you are with one another, the better you’ll be able to help shape the story, and the more often they will want to work with you to help build your brand.
So get out there, start rehearsing, and have a fun, enjoyable interview! In my next post, I’ll be going over the other side of interviewing – asking the right questions to be able to tell a connective marketing story! What questions do you have about being interviewed or about interviewing others? Let me know in the comments! (And if you liked this post, please “like” it down below!)
(Special thanks to Unsplash.com for the cover image of this post! Unsplash is an excellent source for stock image photos that don’t need to be credited.)
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