Monday, June 8, 2009

You've Been Asked To Do An Interview . . Now What?

Here are some tips when working with the media for an interview.

Before the Interview:
  1. A reporter's approach can give clues to the intent of the interview. Will the interview be taped or live? Before the interview date do some research on the media outlet and reporter - what type of stories do they typically cover? Is the reporter conversational or tight-lipped?
  2. Prepare a fact sheet to give to reporter.  If it's a live interview give to reporter the day before the interview. If it's taped bring it to the interview.  This way your key messages will be correct either during the live interview or when the interview is edited.
  3. Prepare talking points for yourself.  You may not cover all points but it is a good point of reference to use as you prepare.
  4. If it's an on camera interview dress appropriately. Stay away from harsh patterns or colors. Keep hair and jewelry simple.
During the Interview:
  1. Be natural, confident and speak at a normal volume.
  2. Be relaxed, smile and make eye contact with reporter. Body language is important. Don't fidget with your cross your arms in front of your chest.
  3. Be honest and accurate. Don't guess, it's alright to say you don't have that information at that time and you will get back to reporter as information is available.
  4. Be brief. Keep language simple, straightforward and to the point. Don't use extremely technical terms and stay with the message.
If Interview Turns Hostile:
  1. Stay calm. Never react and don't yield to pressure. How you sound is as important as what you say.
  2. Respond with facts and be persuasive.
  3. Don't repeat reporter's negative words, even to refute them. Substitute with positive words.
  4. Don't let inaccurate statement pass you by. Word the correction in your follow-up response.  Use steering phrases to bring back your message like:
  • "The real issue here is . . ."
  • "What really affects the public is . . ."
  • "Let's put this in perspective . . ."
  • "Another important point is . . ."
When you are being interviewed, no matter the tone of the interview, always listen carefully to the questions. Listen to the entire question, then take a couple seconds to collect your thoughts before you answer.

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