It’s time to be interviewed by a reporter, but you don’t have to worry. You’ve done a lot of prep work. In my previous articles examining the nuances of Interacting with the Media, we have:
- Unveiled “The Most Important Thing” to giving a successful media interview, which is: Know your content.
- Taken time to understand What Reporters Want, and;
- Armed you with valuable knowledge and effective techniques to Prepare for a Media Interview.
Once you’ve finished all your prep, it’s time to dive into the interview. Here’s how you can deliver a great one!
Before you meet with the reporter, take a minute or two to calm your nerves. Understand that nervousness is normal in this kind of situation. It’s your body and mind’s way of putting you in a state of alertness. Use this to your advantage.
Remember that you’ve taken time to prepare and do your homework, and you have control during this interview. Remember what I said in the first article? This is worth looking at again:
- Even in a situation that seems uncontrollable, you have control of your actions and words. Information is power, and you have the ability to use that power in a positive way.
- You may not be able to control events entirely, but you can control your responses to them.
- Another benefit to relaxing during the interview is you will appear more relatable.
- No matter how the interview goes, be professional. Getting upset over questions that may seem intended to do you or your organization harm will not help you. Be professional no matter how much it hurts.
You’ve got this.
During the interview, remember that most reporters enter into an interview knowing what they want to say, and they will try to get you to say it. So keep these things in mind:
- When answering a question, start with the most important information, then add background.
- Stick to the message. Listen to the reporter’s questions and do your best to answer them if you have the necessary knowledge and authority to do so. However, if you are asked to answer a question that would pull you off your message or off topic, you can use the next technique:
- “Bridging” is used to steer the conversation back to the topic at hand. An example of this would be to say something like, “That’s a good question, and I don’t know the answer to that, but the main point of what I’m saying is…” and then make your point. It is especially useful during interviews that are not broadcast live because the reporter will likely use just a few seconds of the interview in a soundbite.
- Don’t repeat the question. Make your statement. Sometimes, if you repeat all or part of a reporter’s question, the reporter may use that in your quote or soundbite, so be careful.
- Stop and think, and feel free to rephrase. You can take a couple seconds to gather your thoughts. Try and do this sparingly if it’s a live TV interview… but it is okay to pause briefly to formulate your thoughts.
Remember, a reporter is always listening. At the end of the interview, do not be lulled into a comfort zone where you might say something you do not want quoted. Reporters are always reporters, and what you say is fair game. Be cautious.
If You are Misreported
Most reporters take their jobs seriously and want to get the facts right. However, we’re all human, and mistakes happen. We certainly know that’s true in the media. If you are misreported in any way, keep a few things in mind.
- Assess the situation. It might seem like the best possible reaction is to immediately react, but stop and think. It’s best to contact the reporter to discuss the error after you’ve collected your thoughts and have everything in order.
- Ask yourself, “Is it Malicious?” One important thing to remember is that just because the reporter got the information wrong doesn’t mean it’s a malicious attack against you or your organization. Many times, these kinds of mistakes are chalked-up to someone simply goofing up.
- Correct the reporter in a calm manner. That’s the best policy. Overreacting may cause you further trouble, and could even have permanent effects.
These are the basics of providing a successful media interview. All of these steps, from Preparing, to Relaxing, to Focusing, work together to help you convey your information effectively.
There is a specific kind of media interview some people may need to provide that is likely to be challenging. I’ll help you prepare for that, in my next article.