As a former award-winning TV producer and host, and a current PR/publicity professional and magazine publisher, I have been on both sides of the media interview playing field.
I understand what makes a great interview source, how to conduct an interesting interview, and how to give a compelling interview. There are a few tricks of the trade that can make you look like a pro — which will make the reporter’s job easier and most likely translate into a better publicity opportunity.
Here are a few basic tips to follow:
- When a publicity campaign generates a media response, try to respond as quickly as possible to the initial contact and subsequent requests from them. Reporters, editors and producers, and show hosts are on a constant deadline. If they don’t get what they want from you quickly they will move on to another source.
- When doing interviews, state only the facts, and leave out the fluff. Never, ever try to directly sell your product or service. Simply state the specific benefits of your product or service and how you can help your customers solve their problems.
- Speak in sentences, not phrases.
Articulate your answers in the following manner: Subject — Verb — Object — Reason
Ex: “We (subject) are launching (verb) our new product (object)
to give consumers a healthy new option in beverages (reason).”
This will help you give answers that are straightforward and easily understood. Beginning sentences with phrases tends to make your answers seem drawn out, disjointed and most times unresponsive. This is not to say you should never begin a sentence with a phrase.
- Always try to “Echo-answer” or repeat the main questions asked by a reporter.
If a reporter asks: “What makes your product unique?”– try to paraphrase the question and say, “What makes our product unique is…” Your sound bite is much more likely to be used because that answer can stand on its own without needing a “set-up” sentence in the article/story. A reporter can place that quote anywhere because it is an understandable statement about your product.
- Keep quotes and sound bites concise.
Effective TV/radio news broadcast sound bites should be no more than 10 seconds — That’s why they are called sound bites.
- Be a well of knowledge, not a fountain.
Allow the interviewer to draw out your responses instead of offering up unsolicited information. Most interviewers know what points they want to get across to their audience so let them ask the questions. You will seem more genuine and less self-serving if you answer the interviewer’s questions succinctly and professionally. This is especially true when you’re being interviewed about your product or company in the wake of a problem.
- Speak to the interviewer, not the medium.
Don’t get blinded by the “stage lights”. Whether you are speaking to the editor of a small local newspaper or Oprah, consider the reporter just a single person in your extensive targeted audience. Treat the interview as a one-on-one conversation with the reporter. Talk to them as if you were talking to someone you’ve known for a while. That will make you more at ease, allow you to think more clearly and let you be more genuine in your responses.
Need help putting together a success plan for doing captivating media interviews and converting them into profitable opportunities? Contact me for a FREE 15 minute conversation.