So you’ve worked out a great story angle, bought or created a cracking media list, pitched your story, got a response and you’re going to be interviewed by an important magazine and radio station tomorrow. You’re quietly sh***ing yourself but you know you have to do this for the benefit of your business. Here are a few tips to get you through the experience and help you make the most of the opportunity.
Firstly, prepare. Spend some time doing the following:
Think about what you’re really hoping to convey.
Write a list of five key points you’re hoping to get across. Keep these on hand during the interview.
Write a list of questions you think they’re probably going to ask you. Get a friend or colleague to ask you those questions and practice answering them. Include a few curly questions and work out how you would answer these.
Some journalists don’t mind sending you their questions before the interview. Ask your interviewer if they would mind telling you what they’re planning to ask you.
Have a few stats or some relevant data on hand to support your arguments.
Develop a great ‘sound bite’. A sound bite is a key phrase that might be used to promote the interview or develop the headline of the story. It should be vivid, memorable, emotional, clear and interesting. Write it down and keep it with you during the interview.
Check out the target audience of the media outlet. Who listens/reads/watches the program/magazine/blog/paper? Make sure your messages and tone are going to be relevant to their audience. You don’t want to be stiff and formal on a relaxed commercial breakfast radio show. Likewise, you don’t want to come across all ‘Jimeoin’ if you’re talking about a serious issue on Radio National.
If the interview is going to be with a radio or TV program find out if it’s going to be a ‘live interview’ or a ‘pre-record’. A pre-record might make you more relaxed because they can edit out mistakes later.
Google the interviewer. You might find out some personal information that will help you bring up relevant examples or stories during the interview.
Confirm the interview. If you are in another state make sure you have the time zones worked out correctly. We once missed a key interview because we’d miscalculated the time difference between Melbourne and Perth. (That bloody daylight savings can be confusing you know!)
On the big day do the following:
If you’re travelling to a location for the interview allow PLENTY of time. Expect a traffic jam, cancelled train or difficulty finding a car park. If you do get there early you can spend the time going over your notes.
If you’re being interviewed over the phone in your office make sure all your other calls are diverted or held. Media people prefer to interview you on a landline rather than a mobile, so turn your mobile off.
Remember to breathe. It’s better to take a breath and consider your answer than ramble on, particularly if the interview is for a print publication.
Offer your interviewer a photo of you or a photo relevant to your business to run with the story. Even if the story is for a radio show they might run a link to it on their website and they’ll be able to use your image alongside it.
If you were asked something that you need to clarify or find out later, ensure you do this quickly and get the information back to the journalist ASAP.
If it’s not live, find out when the story/interview is likely to run. Sometimes they’ll offer to send/email you a copy when it does. Also, find out if you’re free to post the story on your social media sites and business website. Most allow this but some are a bit funny about it (West Australian I’m looking at you!).
Try to enjoy the process. You know your stuff. Once the initial nerves pass it’s like talking to a colleague. You’ll be fine.
Thank the journalist. They’re doing you a favour after all.
Speaking of questions….
We’re constantly trying to improve our services at Handle Your Own PR and we’d love to find out how you feel about a few ideas we’re toying with. If you have a spare couple of minutes we’d really appreciate your opinions. Won’t take long, promise!