Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’re being interviewed by a reporter and have no idea of what to say? Or do you dread the thought of a media reporter asking questions about your business? People often forget that reporters are people too, and that they can help your business grow!
In this article I will highlight a number of useful media tips which will help you to protect your businesses public reputation.
Make a plan before the interview
What would you like to see about your business in the media? What key messages do you want to communicate to the reporter? If you enter a media interview and just answer questions without any thought for your key messages, you will give the journalist full control of the interview. When companies provide media training, they place the most emphasis on messaging. So make sure you set yourself goals for the interview and have a full understanding of how you will get your key messages across to the reporter.
Remember, less is more!
When it comes to media interviews, less is definitely more! If you’re speaking to a reporter it’s important that you get to the bottom line as quick and as notably as possible. During the interview you will need to deliver your key messages and then back them up with solid facts. To ensure that your message is accessible to the largest number of people, avoid using any jargon, abbreviations or slang. If you tell the reporter a story, make sure it’s short, snappy, and makes the point that you want it to make.
Feel free to offer important information
95 percent of the time, a reporter will ask you at the end of a media interview “is there anything else that you would like to add”? Use this as an opportunity to add any important information that the reporter has not covered. If you feel as though you have covered everything, feel free to repeat your key messages.
Never say ‘no comment’
This is one of the worst things you can say to a journalist as they will invariably go and write the story anyway, and may even use someone else’s damaging comments. A much better approach is to use bridging to deflect from the negative question and follow it up with a positive answer that will still be of interest to the journalist.
Understand exactly why you are being interviewed
It’s paramount that you understand the journalist’s agenda. Are they interviewing you about a negative or positive subject? Why are they interested in your business? Knowing exactly why you are being interviewed will allow you to determine your approach. For example, if the reporter intends to write a positive piece about your business, use it as an opportunity to highlight what makes your business unique.
Even if you are a nervous wreck on the inside, it’s important that you appear confident. Nobody is going to believe in what you’re saying if you don’t believe in yourself. Before you speak, take a nice deep breath and smile. Your breathing and speaking should be steady and calm, providing you with the time to think about what you are saying. Approaching a media interview with confidence will help to avoid awkward “ums” and “ahs”.
Anticipate difficult questions
It’s important to be prepared for difficult or negative questions, this way you can be armed with a positive response. Never say anything that you wouldn’t want to appear in print or on the air, and never reinforce the negative elements of a question in your response. It’s also worth remembering that nothing is ever “off the record”.
Pause to think
Most people tend to ramble when they are nervous, talking around the answer until they figure out exactly how they feel. Rather than do this, just stop, take a deep breath and think. It won’t take long for you to figure out what you want to say, and the answer will be much more succinct. It’s important that you become comfortable with silence as reporters will often wait before asking another question to encourage you to keep talking.
These handy tips were contributed by Quadrant Media Training