If you’re in business there’s a good chance you may one day be called upon to give a media interview. The thought of doing one might be a bit daunting but like anything else, the more interviews you do, the better you’ll become at perfecting them.
I know first-hand just how overwhelming an experience doing a media interview can be so I completely understand the hesitation, but trust me, they’re not as intimidating as you might think.
Not only have I participated in countless interviews on behalf of JMG PR, almost all of my clients have done media interviews in one medium or another. Whether it be for TV, radio, or print, the most important thing to remember is that preparation is key.
No matter how well you know your subject, you should never give an interview unprepared. Yes, there are certain situation where you can just “wing it” but media interviews should not be one of them!
Before any of our clients give a media interview, we make sure they have a clear understanding of the medium and then we review key points to ensure they’re ready to get out there.
And while we may not be able to take away the butterflies you might be feeling, we can make the experience a little less daunting. To help you get started, we’ve broken down the different mediums along with the top five tips we’ve found are important to master a successful interview.
✓ Radio – This is a personal medium which gives the listener the illusion of a one-on-one conversation despite the fact that you are entering the homes of hundreds if not thousands of listeners. It’s a good idea to tailor your language and tone to the type of program you are speaking on. If it’s more business oriented the use of formal language may be required, whereas talkback radio allows for a more causal tone. Radio is a fleeting moment of sound, so listeners will need to quickly grasp what it is you’re saying [there is no hard copy to re-read or a visual to see]. That’s why it’s important to get right to the point.
✓ TV – Your audience will not only hear you but they’ll be able to see you so there are certain elements you must focus on. The power a TV appearance has is its visual impact, so things like your appearance, body language, and your movements, all contribute to the way in which an audience perceives you.
✓ Print – Granted, your audience will not see you, nor will they physically hear you, but the parameters are the same in regards to sharing your message and doing so in a clear and concise way. These types of interviews may feel more relaxed in nature but don’t let that give you a false sense of security. You want to get your key message in early and be careful not to get off subject. A trick for an over the phone media interview is to stand while doing it – standing gives you more confidence.
JMG’s top 5 tips for a successful media interview, no matter the medium..
1. Preparation: Regardless of the medium, knowing your goals ahead of time is essential. Familiarize yourself with things such as:
• Topic -Focus on the key messages you want to communicate. Interviews can go by quickly so plan to speak on only a few points; if time allows, any other issues you’d like to discuss are a bonus.
• Your surroundings - Familiarize yourself with the person who will be conducting the interview, the space if possible, as well as your intended audience.
• Honesty - There’s nothing wrong with being honest if you don’t know an answer. The best way in which to handle such a situation is to say "That’s a great question. I’d like to think about that and get back to you with a more thorough response. Would that be alright with you?”
2. Confidence: Even if you’re nervous, appear confident.
• Take a deep breath and speak calmly; this gives you the chance to think about what it is you’re saying without getting ahead of your thoughts. You want your audience to believe in what you’re telling them and they’re not going to if you don’t believe in yourself.
• Allow the interviewer, or any guests, to speak without interruption - you will have plenty of time to share your thoughts. And remember, smile and just be yourself.
3. Appearance: This is especially important when doing TV media interviews. Viewers should focus on your face, not your clothing. You may be looking forward to being on TV but your media interview is not the day to experiment with a new look. Keep in mind things such as…
• Avoid colors like black, white and red.
• Opt for softer tones, as they appear more flattering on camera.
• No t-shirts, or patterned clothing with checkers, stripes, or intricate designs.
• Avoid bulky or excessive jewelry as this will distract the viewer.
• Nothing too short as you may be seated on a chair or sofa.
• No visible logos or company brands except if they’re your own.
4. Punctuality: Whether you’re showing up in studio or getting on a call, be on time. For TV interviews, build in time for hair and makeup, whether you’re having the two done in studio or elsewhere. You also want a little extra time to run through your talking points and get accustomed to your surroundings. Make sure to have water on hand in the event your mouth gets dry from speaking.
5. Training: Even the most seasoned professionals can tank an interview without a plan in place. And no one wants to make a negative impression, that’s why a little bit of media training can go a long way in ensuring a successful interview.
At JMG PR, one of our many goals is to make sure our clients are 100% ready when they are appearing in the media and so we’d love to hear some of your top media training tips.