Securing a feature story in a leading industry publication or mainstream media outlet is a coup for many companies. It is an opportunity to tell the brand’s story – and to grow one’s share of voice in the marketplace over the competition. While these opportunities can significantly enhance the value of a company’s PR program, a feature article that undersells the true story or is peppered with misinformation can do more harm than good for a brand. As you prepare for your next interview with the media, keep these interview best practices top-of-mind:
Keep it simple
While researching a reporter’s recent stories will provide some insight into the topics with which they are most familiar, it is important to make explanations of products, services, etc. as clear and succinct as possible. Avoid jargon and terminology that is likely only familiar to industry insiders. Simplify complex concepts by drawing parallels to relatable topics. Offer visuals (including infographics) as supporting background or imagery to run alongside the story.
Focus on a few key messages
Companies are complex and often boast a broad range of products and services designed for multiple target audiences. During an interview, key message points are a prime example of the benefits of focusing on quality over quantity. Sharing a few, well-developed and compelling messages that you have the opportunity to build upon is far more impactful than sharing a laundry list of under-developed message points that may get lost in a sea of too much information.
Know your blind spots
Some spokespeople excel in front of a TV camera while others are more comfortable doing phone interviews. Whether you are in your mode-of-choice or stepping beyond your comfort zone by being interviewed, know what tendencies and triggers make you uncomfortable and take steps to proactively address them. For example, if you know you have a tendency to speak a bit too quickly or to mumble, practice your pacing before the interview. If you feel you are easily taken off track by unexpected questions, know how to appropriately redirect the interview to ensure you have an opportunity to share your most important talking point.
Learn from your prior interviews
Is there a key message point that is often reported inaccurately? Is it common for a couple of your services to become mistaken for one another? Do reporters historically omit the messages you feel were the most important? Studying up before you engage in an interview with the media can help to strengthen the final article. If you know which message points you need to flag (i.e. The most important thing we do is…) and which you need to simplify, you minimize the potential for confusion and increase the chances of information not only being included, but being reported accurately.
While being interviewed by the media is natural for some, for others it requires extensive media training to become comfortable as the voice of an organization. Regardless of which defines you personally, it is important to remember that media are reporting on what they see and hear, so focusing on delivering the right messages as clearly as possible is key.