When a journalist comes calling, there’s usually a rush of emotions from excitement through to fear.
While it can be terrifying being contacted by news outlets, it’s important to take up the great opportunity presented, so you can own your message, get you and your company out there and protect your public image.
To do this, try to stay calm and think like a journalist by predicting what they may ask. This will allow you to perfect your message – along with a little practice of your delivery before the interview.
So how should you prepare and what exactly should you be focusing on? Here are a few tips from Adoni Media founder and journalist Leisa Goddard.
Know the five W’s
There are many reasons a journalist may be calling, such as responding to a media release you’ve issued or seeking expert comment for an article. Whatever the reason, it’s always important to be prepared.
Make sure you know:
- Who is the journalist and where are they are calling from? Do they have an area of expertise?
- What do they want? What type of interview are they organizing and for what medium – is it a phone interview or will you need to be interviewed in front of a camera?
- When is the deadline? When does the journalist want to conduct the interview? When will the story run?
- Where do they want to do the interview? On location, in your home, office, studio or elsewhere?
- Why is the media interested in the story? Why is the journalist contacting you?
Buy yourself time
It’s very important to remember to never agree to an immediate interview, instead, try to buy yourself some time. This is so you can prepare what you would like to say, including your key message. Ask for the journalist’s contact details so you are able to get in touch with them to confirm a time and place for the interview.
With this being said, journalists are incredibly time poor, so make sure you give them a timeframe of when you’ll be back in touch. For instance, tell them something like “I’ll just check my diary and give you a call back within half an hour,” so they can know if you’ll be able to do the interview quickly and when.
Prepare and practice
Of course, quite possibly the most important step before an interview is practice. Always prepare and practice what you’re planning to say as well as how you’re going to deliver your key message before talking with a journalist. An easy and effective technique is to write down the main messages you’d like your audience to know. Limit these to three or four and keep them interesting and accurate.
Present and interview
Finally, it’s time for your interview. Before you start, keep in mind the three C’s – be calm, concise and confident. This will help you avoid using jargon which might confuse your audience causing your key message to be lost.
A word of warning – journalists may throw in some curveball questions to catch you off-guard, so be prepared for the unexpected. Don’t get sucked in and aim to use relevant and easy-to-understand facts or statistics so your story appears more credible.