Those who don’t have a lot of experience with the media can sometimes feel very intimidated about doing an interview. However, interviews don’t have to be either difficult or frightening – in fact, by following a few very simple guidelines, even the most reticent person can come across as poised and professional.

Prepare for Media Interviews

Preparing beforehand to give interviews, or seeking out the chance to be interviewed can provide a real boost. When a businessperson’s name is seen in the paper or heard on the news regularly, they soon develop a reputation as being knowledgeable in their field. That kind of reputation can help them advance in their careers, their businesses or their avocations.

Before meeting with the reporter it is important to consider an objective and come up with a few key messages that will help meet that objective. Interviewees can take control of the situation and do not need to feel that they are at the mercy of the journalist. Prepare ahead of time and practice responses to anticipated questions.

Answering Reporters’ Questions

While interviewees should answer the questions that reporters ask, they also have an opportunity make their key points. Importantly, they should not be afraid to be repetitive. It is impossible to know exactly what statement the reporter will use, so repeating important key messages can be a good way to ensure that they end up in the final broadcast, article or blog.

But, while interviewees should recognize that they can exert control over the interview, there are a few important “don’t do’s” to keep in mind: don’t refuse to make a comment and don’t ask to see the story before it is printed or aired. Both are the marks of amateurs.

Tips for a Success Interview:

  • Never speak off the record. Anything you say is fair game for the reporter to use.
  • Be responsive. Answer the reporter’s questions and give succinct responses – often referred to as “sound bites.”
  • Remain calm and collected – even when dealing with an antagonistic reporter.
  • Keep answers short and to the point.
  • Use examples, whenever possible, to illustrate points made.
  • Never let a reporter frame the response by repeating what they say.
  • Don’t feel that a reporter’s facts or figures must be accepted as fact. Disagree if necessary and provide accurate information.

Interviews can be a great way to get publicity – and the cost is right. Be careful, though, about trying to turn the interview into a commercial. Reporters are interested in news, not advertisements. But, take the time to prepare beforehand, anticipate questions and boost the chances of appearing in the news.