Interview Tips – Sneak Peek into PR Media Training
-Nikki Camarillo, Senior PR Account Executive
Representing yourself well in media interviews is one of the best ways to establish thought leadership and become a credible source that reporters will reach out to for expert commentary. PR media training consists of several tools, tactics, and techniques to comfortably and effectively share key messages with your target audiences. Below are tips on how to speak to the media that are sure to help you nail your next interview.
Don’t “Wing It”
Before going into any interview, make sure you’re fully prepared. Know who you are talking to and what angle the interview is exploring. Always practice your messages before the interview and be prepared to expect the unexpected.
Be Confident and Energetic
While you may be nervous during your interview, do your best to appear confident. Sit up straight, smile, and stay energized throughout the interview. Always maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Never look straight into the camera!
Condense Your Messages
When possible, answer in a few complete sentences, not just a few words or long paragraphs. Think in “10-second soundbites.” When it comes to TV or radio, your answers need to be concise and to the point, because the interview is fast-paced and often news segments aren’t that long. You’ll be surprised how quickly the time goes!
Do Not Use Jargon
When speaking with the media, speak as if you are talking to a neighbor or friend. Use jargon, and you’ll not only lose reporters, but you will lose the audience. Keep numbers and statistics to a minimum – 1-2 numbers max. Remember to highlight how the information you’re sharing will potentially impact people and address these as necessary. Stay on message.
Use Message Bracketing and Bridging to Answer Difficult Questions
To navigate rough waters, use transitional phrases such as “we’ve heard that too, but the fact is…” or “what’s important for people to understand is…” Use flagging to highlight essential points such as “if there is one thing people should take away from this, it’s…” When in doubt – restate the questions and answer the question the best way you know how.
Never Say “No Comment”
Instead, explain that some information cannot be discussed for legal reasons, or you cannot discuss details at this time. Know how to speak to the media – be patient, professional, and polite with aggressive or antagonistic reporters. They want you to lose your cool on camera! Don’t oblige them.
Everything is “On The Record”
Be aware that everything you say during your interview is fair game for the reporter to use in their story. When in doubt, stop talking and wait for the next question. Do not guess and keep your PR media training in mind – it’s OK to admit you don’t know the answer. If you make a mistake, ask the reporter for another opportunity to answer the question.
Repeat your most persuasive message. Always take the opportunity when the reporter asks, “is there anything else you’d like to add?” Use hooking techniques to promote future, positive news stories. Lastly, always remember to smile, be enthusiastic, and have fun!