Tips for Preparing for a Media Interview
Before the interview:
- Know the reporter, publication/program, interview format, audience.
- Know your goal for the interview.
- Know what you want to say: review your "key message points."
- Jot down likely questions, appropriate answers.
- Prepare a range of questions, hard and easy.
- Speak in "headlines." Offer conclusions first, briefly and directly and back it with facts or "proof points."
- Don't over-answer. Short answers are better than long.
- Don't be fixated by the question. "Bridge" to a related point you want to make.
- Asked about a problem? Talk about a solution.
- Don't let false charges, facts or figures offered by a reporter stand uncorrected.
- Don't repeat a reporter's negative statements or slurs. Frame your reply as a positive statement.
- Don't fall victim to hypothetical situations and "A or B" dilemmas.
- Be engaging, likable.
- Don't know the answer? Don't fake it. If appropriate, assure the reporter you will find and provide the needed facts in a timely manner, or offer to assist the reporter in finding that other source.
- Don't overlap the interviewer's question; begin your answer when the reporter is finished.
- Keep cool. Don't be provoked.
- Never lie to a reporter.
For telephone interviews:
- Buy preparation time by asking to call the reporter back if deadline allows.
- Establish an "interview atmosphere" and mindset.
- Use notes.
- Ask questions in order to gain feedback.
- For radio, speak visually - use words to paint pictures.
For television interviews:
- For men, a dark suit and blue shirt works best. For women, avoid solid black or white, or busy patterns. Bright colors are fine.
- Don't wear large, shiny or noisy jewelry.
- Sit erect, but not ramrod-straight, slightly forward in the chair. Unbutton suit jacket when seated.
- Resist the urge to shout into the microphone. Speak and gesture naturally.
- Talk to the reporter/interviewer, not the camera.
- Keep a pleasant expression; smile when appropriate.
- Hold your "interview attitude" from the moment you are lit until the interview is completely over and the camera is off.
A=Q + key
Courtesy of Fleishman-Hillard International Communications