From the desk of Kathryn Marshall…
It’s a New Year and many businesses are gearing up for a busy tradeshow season or are in the midst of launching new products. This heightened activity will likely bring with it a host of media opportunities and a chance to get your message across to a target-rich audience.
Like the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It’s important to be prepared and well positioned to maximize each and every interview opportunity. Below are 10 basic tips to keep in mind for making the most out of media interview opportunities:
Research the outlet and interviewer
Similar to how you might prepare for a new customer meeting, be sure to do your homework on the media outlet and reporter ahead of time so you can better tailor your comments. Find out critical information ahead of time and answer the basic questions: What’s their target audience? Does this reporter know anything about your company or your market? What kinds of relevant articles has the reporter written in the past?
Prepare key messages and talking points
Map out what you want to say ahead of time. Selecting three main ideas or messages will help you organize your thoughts and know exactly what you want to say during the interview.
Practice with mock interviews
Going through the exercise of saying what you want to say out loud ahead of time can help you learn beforehand if what you are saying actually makes sense. Have someone practice asking you questions and take time to walk through your responses.
Be on time and know the length of interview
There’s nothing worse than thinking you have 30 minutes to interview when you really only have 10. Be sure to show up on time and ask the reporter how much time they have before you launch into your discussion.
Long-winded answers tend to lose the message and its importance. Knowing what you want to say ahead of time will help you deliver short, concise answers that will keep the interview focused on the topic at hand.
Offer different perspectives
Don't just be an expert on yourself or your company. Share industry experiences or facts that help shape the topic of discussion. Serving as a great industry resource will also help you become a regular “go-to” person for the press.
Pause for questions
It’s easy to start talking about how great your new product is going to be and lose track of time. Make sure the interviewer is following what you are saying and be sure to pause to give them time to ask questions.
It’s okay to say “I don’t know”
You aren’t expected to know everything so don’t pretend like you do. It’s okay to say you don’t know the answer. Most interviewers will respect you more for admitting it and will appreciate the information in a follow-up email or conversation.
Promptly follow up with action items
If you have outstanding items after the interview, be aware of the reporter’s deadline. They may have to file the story later that day or early the next so it’s important to get right back to them with pending information.
This is your time to get your message across so be engaging and have fun with it. It will likely provide for a much more interesting and interactive interview.