Guide Handling Media Interviews

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Many small business owners have little or no experience in dealing with reporters, so that first interview can be an intimidating experience.

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One of the best things you can do to help feel more confident about being interviewed is to think through the key messages you want to convey. Also, have a fact sheet about your business ready to give to the reporter.

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This will help assure they report basic information correctly ; nothing is more annoying than to work hard to get some publicity and then to have your name spelled wrong or some similar error made. Prepare for the interview by having someone ask you all the questions that might arise.

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Find out what the deadline is. This puts you in charge instead of the report when you call back. Unless you and the reporter have agreed in advance that something you are about to say is off the record, everything you say is fair game and may end up in the story. Then do it! Name required. Mail will not be published required. Interview topics often move in undesirable directions, especially during times of crisis and getting back on track can be challenging.


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Emphasize brevity. To prepare long-winded executives give them one piece of paper with a bulleted list to reference during the interview, advises PR pro Jenna Cason. The list can include concise company facts and brief responses to expected questions.

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Time them. Time their response to a question during a practice session with a stop watch or a stop watch app. Ask them to guess the length of their responses. In general, they should aim to respond to questions within 30 to 45 seconds, Cason says. Avoid telling spokespeople exactly how to respond to a question. Encourage them to be succinct without taking away elements that make them unique and natural.

Most of all, you want your executive to understand that an interview is a conversation between two people. Even if you disagree with a negative description, repeating it encourages journalists to include it their headline or article. Instead, answer the question with positive language. Some reporters request information off the record then publish the information anyway. Sometimes remarks are reported by mistake if the interviewer, interviewee or both misunderstand when the off-the-record portion ends.

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Also warn executives about other sneaky interview tricks journalists use like pregnant pauses. Bonus tip : To gauge the success of media interviews, employ a media monitoring and measurement service. Media monitoring and measurement will gather essential information such as the number of key messages included in interviews and other news articles, the number of competitors mentioned and the sentiment of news articles.

By tracking key metrics, media monitoring and measurement will prove the value of your media training and overall PR efforts. Bottom Line : Research and preparation is central to successful media interviews. Understanding the perspective of the news source and its audience can help you anticipate questions and develop responses.

Questioning the interviewer in advance about the purpose of the story can also provide guidance on potential questions. William J.

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