Ok, you – or your PR agency – have landed a coveted press interview but you’re a rookie when it comes to media interviews. Don’t stress!
It is absolutely normal to be a little nervous – even media interview pros get the occasional jitters. While every interview and reporter is different, here are a few tips that will have you interview-ready in no time.
- Do your research. This is an important step because it will help you prepare responses or anticipate questions a reporter may ask.
- Be prepared BUT do not overthink it — It’s everything you already know because it’s your story, product or talent. Prepare key points you want to make sure you cover in an interview.
- Rehearse but don’t memorize. You want to sound conversational and knowledgeable not robotic.
- Be yourself. Have fun with it. Think of it as having a conversation with a friend.
- When responding to a question, lead with the most important information and then follow with supplementary details.
- Maintain control of the interview. If you feel the reporter is going off topic, steer back to what you want to discuss. Depending on the context of the reporter’s question, you can use phrases such as “yes, but more importantly,” “I am not quite sure about that, but what I do know is”
- Be concise but do not answer a reporter’s question with only one word. It leaves little opportunity open to continue the relaxed feel of the interview. On the other side, Do not ramble. This is especially important when it comes to LIVE television or radio interviews where time is often limited.
- Never respond with “no comment,” It makes it seem as if you’re hiding something.
- Do not send a thank you gift to the reporter. This will eliminate any perception of conflict of interest. A simple thank you note is enough.
Earlier we referred to television interviews so if you should land a TV interview, here are a few extra tips specific to television
- Ask about the interview. Will it be live or taped? Will anyone else be part of the interview? How long will the interview be? Where will the interview take place? All of this will help you prepare to ensure you are on time, have appropriate message points prepared and bring appropriate visuals/props if needed.
- Make eye contact with the reporter as if you were having a one-on-one conversation and whatever you do, please do NOT look straight into the camera while you’re speaking. It will make you look like a scared deer caught in headlights.
- Do NOT wear white on camera. Choose warm neutral colors.
- Do NOT fidget or “talk with your hands” constantly.
Becoming good at interviews takes time but if you adhere to the key tips outlined, you will become better with every interview you do.