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Media Interviews Needn’t Be Scary

Media interviews needn’t be scary

So you have been asked to do an interview with somebody from the media and your automatic response is “I can’t do this! What if I say the wrong thing/they misquote me/they take my comments out of context?”

Media interviews can naturally seem daunting and even intimidating, especially if you are a first timer. But there are ways to make the process painless. Added to that, you can get great coverage for your company and its products/services. Planning is the key and following the steps below are a great starting point.

When you are first approached to do a media interview:

  • Ask the interviewer about their publication and its target audience.
  • Ask them what the reason for the interview will be (for example, opinion piece, product information, part of a feature article etc.).
  • Find out in advance what questions the journalist/interviewer plans to ask you or ask them if you can provide your own questions if they are unsure.
  • Ask whether anyone else is going to be interviewed about the same topic.
  • Ask what the deadline is for publication.

Some critical things you need to do:

  • If you cannot make the appointed interview date and/or time, ask if the interviewer is willing to conduct the interview on an alternative date. Send them a formalised meeting request.
  • Prepare – journalists are looking for value for their publication/programme so give them information that will enlighten and educate their readers/listeners.
  • Practise – rehearse possible questions with a colleague.
  • Pre-check any facts and figures you plan to use in your interview.
  • If you are unsure about a question, ask for clarity on what the interviewer means.
  • If you cannot answer a question, promise to come back to the interviewer. Then make sure you follow through, promptly.
  • Ask for a draft of the article prior to it being published.
  • When checking a draft of the article stick to checking factual accuracy only. Each publication has its own editorial style and you will not make a friend of the editor if you nit-pick their style. However, you can gently point out any glaring grammatical errors. If the document is not already marked for ‘Tracking’ then do so in order to indicate to the editor what changes you have made.

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