Media Training: The Basics of Being Interviewed

Do you realize how much it matters for you and your company to be portrayed well in the media? Your company’s reputation depends a great deal on how you conduct yourselves with members of the media, especially in interviews. It’s extremely important, then, to make sure you know how to handle an interview adeptly.

Even in the business-to-business world, a little media training can do a lot to prepare you to handle any question that may come up and effectively represent your company on TV, in print, and in public. You may think that just because you know your business inside and out, that you’re ready to handle any interview. But your own expertise may blind you to a simple, effective way to explain your company and what it does, and that can leave you floundering and fumbling in the middle of an interview.

A B2B public relations specialist can be a big help. At Ripley PR, we do media training with all of our clients to make sure they’re ready to take on local and national media with any topics and questions that may present themselves.

You can get started on your own training by considering the following tips.

  • Have a plan. Remember that whether in print or sound bite, only a few of your words are going to make it into the coverage, so you want to have in mind exactly what you want to say. Pick a couple of key points that you want to make during the interview and figure out how to say them in a clear, concise way that doesn’t include a lot of industry jargon.
  • Be prepared to steer the conversation. In a media interview, the reporter has the greater share of control, so it’s your job to know what your goals are and how you’re going to reach them. The journalist may not actually ask you the question you want to answer. However, you can use your answer to another question to transition into what you really want to say.
  • Remember, you’re always on record. Anything you say during your interview has the potential to make it into the completed piece. Stick as closely to what you want to say as possible, and when you answer questions the reporter asks, don’t volunteer additional information. Don’t speculate about something you don’t know; rather, tell the reporter you’ll find out and get back to them.
  • Avoid the negative where you can. Above all, never repeat a negative question, which can be easily misconstrued. If you must answer, keep it as brief as possible and draw the attention right back to your goal or message. If things get too off track, don’t be afraid to ask for a break to regroup.

When you’re preparing for an interview, make sure you take time to practice. Figure out what you want to say and what questions might go along with it. Have someone you know pretend to be the reporter and lob questions, even tricky ones, at you, to see how you handle it.

Don’t underestimate the value of a good interview. With a little training and practice, you can accurately convey all of your company’s messages and be pleased with the portrayal of your business in the media.

Heather Ripley, Founder/CEO

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