Keep Control in a Media Interview

Newspapers

Let's say that for months, you've been trying to get some media attention. Finally, the local television station or newspaper wants to interview you about your company's new product.

"Great," you think, "some publicity at last." But don't be fooled into thinking this interview will be a snap because you know the company and products inside out. If you aren't prepared, whether it's a print or broadcast interview, you may not make the most of the opportunity. Even worse, you might leave a false impression or come off poorly.

Here are six pointers to help turn an interview to your advantage:

Look behind the friendly persona. Treat the interview as a professional transaction and handle yourself accordingly. This doesn't mean you shouldn't be personable -- just don't be lulled into a false sense of security. The reporter isn't there to be on your side or sympathetic to your cause.

Get your points across. The reporter may not ask the questions you feel are relevant, so look for opportunities to bring up what you want to say. Speak in conversational language, free of jargon. In other words, be "quotable."

Do your homework. Get to know the media outlet where the interview will appear. Look into the target audience and the general tone of the medium. If you don't think it will enhance your cause, turn the interview down. Not all publicity is good publicity.

Know the interviewer. Read or watch interviews the reporter has done before, if you have time. It may give you insight into the person's style. However, be aware that reporters may call and need to talk with you immediately because they're working on an article for the next day. Try to accommodate deadlines or you could be left out.

Choose the right words. The interviewer may not want to present you in a favorable light. Editors often assign "angles" to stories and the interviewer may ask leading questions to bait you into saying something negative to bolster an assumption. Determine the purpose of the interview and how to present information about your company positively.

Get coaching. If you find yourself being interviewed on a regular basis, you may want to hire a professional media trainer to help you make the most of publicity.

Handled correctly, the publicity of a media interview can raise visibility and attract new customers.

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