PR Media Training InPRactice

You’ve Got A Media Interview … Now What?

author: Scott Covelli

Written by: Scott Covelli

Public Relations Director

05.19.2021

  • Best Practices
  • PR

InPRocess is a bi-monthly PR blog series. Do you need guidance with a PR challenge you’re facing? Connect with our PR Director Scott to learn more about all of EPIC’s PR services, including media + community relations, crisis management, and influencer marketing.

Tips To Get Ready For The Red Record Light

They say everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame, but I think that should apply to businesses and brands too. Whether you’re ready for it or not, every brand finds itself in the spotlight sooner or later. Sometimes it’s a wonderful circumstance of stepping up to help those in need, and other times it might be in response to an unfortunate turn of events, like leaving an NBA superstar waiting for a table at your restaurant.

Most times, however, it’ll be a seemingly benign local TV media interview. Seems simple right? Well there’s a lot more to it than you might think. And if you make the most of it—from answering tricky questions to wearing the right clothes—you’ll see some serious benefits, and maybe even more minutes of fame in the future.

“What Do I Wear?”

Truthfully, that’s an excellent question. Your outfit for a TV interview affects people’s perception of you more than you’re likely willing to admit. Are you stuffy? Quirky? Trendy? Frankly, you don’t want to be any of those. Dress at an appropriate level of formality for the interview, and when in doubt, dress it up a little bit. And keep it to solid, basic colors.

And regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, bringing some make-up along can save the day if you get shiny or need to cover up a blemish. You don’t want a pimple to steal the show.

Remember Your Manners

Before you even get there, make sure to drink plenty of water, and avoid coffee or soda unless it’s really early in the morning. It can dehydrate you or make you fidgety. Speaking of fidgeting, try to be mindful of your movement. Don’t gesture with your hands or nod your head excessively. A little goes a long way.

When addressing the reporter, try to make good, natural eye contact. Also, when on TV, your mom might be watching, so remember to sit up straight!

Keep An Eye Out For Tough Questions

Depending on the format of the interview, the reporter might give you the questions ahead of time, and it never hurts to ask for them. Regardless, there are several kinds of questions that you’ll want to be wary of so that you don’t fall for any traps.

Aside: I feel like it’s important to say that the vast majority reporters are friendly, professional people with a lot of integrity who just want to know the facts and tell a good story. There are some, however, who are going to try to dig for the dirt, and that’s what we prepare for.

Here are 5 kinds of questions to look out for:

  • The Stumper: It’s OK to say that you don’t know something, or that you’ll find out the answer and get back to them.
  • The Speculator: Sometimes a reporter will want you to give your thoughts on what someone else might have been thinking. Don’t speak for others unless you’re authorized!
  • The “Putting Words in Your Mouth” Question: One of the first rules of media training is to never repeat the negative. So if a reporter says, “Are you upset that your company is losing customers?” Don’t say “I’m not upset.” Instead, say something like “I’m confident in our employees and how we’ll respond to this situation.”
  • The Opinion Question: It’s perfectly fine to give your opinion, but if you’re being interviewed on behalf of a company, remember that your opinion will be tied to the company, for better or worse.
  • The “Off The Record” Question: When in doubt, it’s all on the record, even if the reporter says it isn’t. So it’s best to keep your guard up at all times.

Stay On Track

There’s often a clear direction for the story, but if you find yourself with a reporter who wants to stray, it’s important to stay on topic. Before your interview, identify 2-3 key talking points in your head that you know you want to address. If the reporter asks you about something else, it’s fine to answer if you feel comfortable, but it’s also perfectly acceptable to redirect back to the original topic. You can pivot with polite phrases like “I don’t know much about that, but what I do know is…”.

You don’t want to have a script memorized, but having your key points at the top of your mind can keep you focused and will help you avoid distractions.

Know Your Audience

Many interviewees slip up in interviews when they think too much about their moment in the spotlight. In reality, your interview is about connecting with the audience. Try to keep in mind that they’re watching because they want to either learn something, be entertained, or be called to action. In your answers, appeal to the audience by showing them why your story matters to them.

At the end of the interview, the reporter will often give an open-ended question: “Is there anything you’d like to add?” Be sure to have something prepared so that you end strong. Give a recap on something that’s especially important to the story, give them a website to learn more information, or invite them to visit your store or upcoming event.

In the end, as with any business “meeting,” view media interviews as a way to grow your business. You can do that by connecting with your audience, preparing, and being polite and focused. At EPIC Creative, we help our clients make the most of these opportunities, and stretch their “15 minutes of fame” as far as it can go. Reach out today to learn more!

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