Ten Tips For Better Press Interviews
How do you make the most out of a press opportunity?
Many entrepreneurs find themselves the object of press attention at one time or another. If you have the opportunity to gain your business some valuable PR by giving an interview, then you need to make sure you make the most of it. Firstly let’s just remember that Journalists are not private detectives determined to dig up the dirt, but hard working people, trying to do a good job, just like you. They are a time-pressured bunch, trying to create a good story, and it’s your job to help them with that.
Here are some sensible tips for sensible interviews:
Research the journalist, the publication, what they are writing about, the news of the week. You need to be in touch with the outside world so you can relate it to what you are doing on the inside.
2. It’s not all about you
The old truism ‘No-one is that interested in you,’ is – erm – true, even in an interview. If what you are saying is not of interest to their audience, – don’t say it. Audience first, company messages second. Be prepared to speak of their concerns and their issues and ambitions, not yours. That said, in the ‘WHO, WHEN, WHY, WHAT, WHERE,’ scenario, the WHO can be pretty interesting, so don’t fade out the colourful character – it makes great copy. Authenticity is crucial, personality is essential. Aim to just present the best of yourself, beliefs, and convictions.
3. Interviews are like a box of chocolates…
You never know what you are going to get – a Cub Scout reporter or an authority in the field. Be warned: out of the mouths of babes can come some tricky questions. Be able to tell the story on a multitude of levels.
4. Start with the basics
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. Ask how long they have and what they want to cover off. If they have not met you before, give a couple of minutes to brief them on your company’s background. Qualify that they are ‘keeping up’, not everyone is au fait with every acronym.
5. Listen louder
It sounds obvious, but actively listen to the question and just try to answer it. You need to answer questions as best as you can, and weave in your messaging where appropriate and leave it out where it isn’t. It’s critical to be seen as someone who understands the market and how it ticks. This is more important than getting all your messages across in each and every interview! You may manage it the first time, but possibly they won’t want to talk to you a second time.
6. Why, not How
In the main, journalists are more concerned with business arguments than technology methodologies so the WHY needs to be answered way before the HOW. If you get the WHY right then they should ask HOW.
7. Get to the point
Journalists are very busy people, so PLEASE get to the point. Work out a top down way of delivering your story and give the answer you want to be quoted. That way if you’ve struck a chord with the journalist you can drill down with more insight or leave it as a one liner if it’s getting no traction.
8. Nobody’s perfect
Do avoid appearing like a megalomaniac. Your service/ product does not help all the people all the time. There are times when the going is tough. Admit it. The rest of what you say will be more believable as a result.
9. Do not go off the record
Ever. It is not reasonable to ask the journalist to remember what is and is not off the record. Make sure your story is engaging enough and you have enough facts and opinions to hand to not have to resort to OTR subject matter.
10. Wrapping up
If necessary, summarise key points. Check if they have everything they need, offer value add, research whitepapers, photos, screenshots as a follow up. Do not suggest checking the copy or ask when it’s coming out. But do connect on LinkedIn and keep in touch with regular news.
Sam Howard is a PR Consultant, Media Trainer and Founder of The Comms Crowd.