Let’s say that out of the blue, you receive an invitation to be interviewed by a member of the press. What’s the first thing you do? Panic? Hastily turn it down? Run for the hills?
Not so fast. PR opportunities are a major resource, especially for cash-strapped startups. Handled well, a media interview can raise your profile, expose your business to new potential markets, boost the reputation of both you and your enterprise, and help you to achieve your goals quicker.
How then can you make the most of your press opportunities? Read on for four tips on how to ace that media interview.
Request Questions in Advance
One of the biggest concerns of anyone invited to an interview is that they’ll be on the receiving end of curveball questions that will end up making them look foolish. Journalists, though, are not (well, rarely!) out to trick you, and it’s perfectly acceptable to ask them what kinds of questions to expect. Once you’ve received a list of questions, jot down some answers in bullet-form, but don’t prepare a speech! Its best to sound natural yet prepared, instead of stifled and stuffy.
Another common misconception about media interviews is that the journalist holds all the cards. In fact, this is an opportunity for you to share your thoughts and ideas. So, feel free to proactively steer the conversation in a direction that serves you. This doesn’t mean completely changing track or answering a question with a completely irrelevant response, but instead, being prepared to discuss your ideas in a natural, authentic way. Bridging techniques (“For me, the key issue is….”, “This brings me back to what I said earlier”) are ideal for this.
Think about it: which interviews are the most memorable? An interviewee who is negative is more likely to be remembered than one who is positive, but a negative interview will do more harm than good. Stay on message, avoid saying ‘no comment’ and definitely avoid saying anything potentially damaging to yourself, or to anyone else (even a competitor). Occasionally, an interviewer will ask for comments ‘off the record’. It’s best to avoid going off the record, even if you’ve been promised your words won’t be published. Consider everything, even the informal chat that takes place before the interview officially starts, as possible publishable.
Reflect and Review
Interviews are not just PR opportunities – they’re learning opportunities. So, remember to review, debrief, and reflect after the interview is finished to think about what went well, and what could be improved on. There may also be opportunities to follow up on what was said, helping you to maximize the impact of the discussion. For example, if you’ve managed to mention your new service, follow up with a Tweet that offers new customers a discount for purchase.
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