November 16, 2022
July 4, 2023
Claudia Pritchitt
PB Comms

5 tips for a successful media interview

Having a media presence is important for any organisation. A good relationship with the press is even better and companies are continually striving to create such good connections.

Like most relationships, the less forced and more natural it is, the more likely it will succeed.

One way to foster a good relationship with media is to prepare well for any interactions you have with the press. To that end, here are five simple steps to follow before any media interview.

1) Prepare your talking points

Before the interview think about what you want to get out of it and how you are going to achieve it. You may want to promote a product, for example, but reporters and journalists are not interested in providing free advertising, and it is unlikely you will be able to speak unconditionally about that product.

Instead, you need to think strategically and talk about issues not products. You could start, for example, with the problem your product is trying to solve and prepare several talking points around that problem.

You may not even have a specific agenda; the reporter may have contacted you for an article they are researching. In that case, ask the journalist for as much information about the topic or questions they plan to ask beforehand so you can prepare. If you have done this, then answer the questions asked in as much detail as possible, not the questions you wish they had asked.

2) Prepare your 'not-talking' points

If there are things you are not willing to say, or unable to say for confidentiality reasons, you need to be prepared for what you will do if you are directly asked questions about those topics.

You may, in the case of an interview for a print publication, be prepared to ask if you can tell the interviewee something off the record but be mindful you need to ask that before you go into any detail. And of course, an off the record request is useless in a live radio or television interview.

Also, think through your responses. A "I can't talk about that at this time", may well be followed up with a "When do you think you can talk about it then?".

3) Research the publication

You would be offended if you sat down with a journalist or reporter, and they knew nothing about your organisation. In the same vein, it is respectful to have some knowledge of the publication that will be interviewing you.

It's not hard to stay on top of mainstream publications like the Financial Review or a national broadsheet, and we understand that coverage in these publications is important. But don't discount or fail to prepare for an interview by an industry publication. They may not have the same prestige as the larger publications, but an industry newsletter can be much more targeted and go directly to an audience you want to reach.

Become familiar with the publication the interview is for and try and find out a bit about the journalist or reporter who will be interviewing you. If somebody has written hundreds of articles about superannuation for example, it's only going to be a waste of their time, and yours, if you spend 10 minutes explaining the superannuation guarantee to them.

4) Listen and engage

Don't be a politician (unless of course you are a politician and then go for your life) and answer a question with a comment like "That's a great question Leigh but before I answer that can I tell you how wonderful our new product is." Good journalists know exactly what you are doing and have very little patience for it.

As interesting as it is for you, your new product will most likely have very little news value for them. It doesn't mean you can't mention it, but you will be cut short if you talk for 10 minutes about it.

Listen to the questions being asked and answer them as well as you can. Your new product is more likely to get a mention if you can share insights specific to the questions being asked.

If you don't know the answer to something, say you don't know the answer. Honesty really is the best policy. And if you have prepared for those questions which really are a no-go area for you, you shouldn't be caught off-guard when they come up.

5) Follow up

Once you have begun a relationship with a reporter or journalist, keep it going. Let them know you will keep in touch about any important news you have coming up. You don't have to thank them for any positive coverage they give you (reporters rarely like this) but do thank them for their time and consider catching up with them for coffee. You want to become the first person they call for any media comment on your area of expertise.


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