Before you can benefit from a media interview, or keep out of trouble if it’s a negative issue, you need to know what the reporter needs from you.
This depends on the medium and format
If it’s for a TV or radio news bulletin, all they want from you is one or two verbatim snippets lasting between five and 15 seconds. These will become the story’s sound bites. This is why it’s so important that you are concise. If you’re not, one of two things will happen. You will either lose the opportunity and be shut out of the story. Or secondly, the reporter will try to paraphrase what you said. This is usually where people get misquoted.
The best way to take control of these interviews is to work out the two or three key points you want to make, and dress them up into language that will help the reporter bring the story to life by using them as sound bites. We’ll look at this in more detail in a later post.
What about live broadcast interviews?
Obviously there is less pressure here because viewers or listeners will hear the entire interview, not just small snippets of it. But it’s still important to prepare the same way. You should always answer the questions asked of you, but then transfer to one of your points, or one of the more interesting ways you have come up with to make that point. That makes it far more likely that viewers or listeners will remember your point.
Regardless of the topic, this is an opportunity to get your points across. If you only answer the questions, you lose that chance. You will also find that snippets of that interview may be used as sound bites in subsequent news bulletins. But that will only happen if you make your points in interesting ways.
What about print?
Print stories fit into two categories. These are news stories and feature articles. If you are being interviewed for a news story, you have more scope than you do for a broadcast interview, but be careful. The reporter will be wanting background and material that he can quote you directly from. So the preparation process is the same as those above. Always remember that everything is quotable so you still need to be brief and transfer back to your points in different ways. If you don’t, you lose control of what the story will focus on.
Feature stories are more detailed, so you will be asked more questions. My advice here is still to focus on your key points, but have more ways of saying these points than you would plan for a news story. This will give the reporter more material and more options for direct quotes, but you will still be focused on your message. You’d be surprised how little information is needed from you to create a 1000-word feature article.
Everything you need to know about media interviews, including the ability to put your new skills into practice in the privacy of your own home or office through your computer webcam, is incorporated in Media Interview Training for Franchises