Maximize your media opportunity
Active in your community? Leader in your industry? Champion for a cause?
If so, there is a strong possibility that you will be asked for an interview by your local media. While some people jump at the chance to share their story and spread the word, others shudder at what the outcome might be. Having participated in every side of the interview, I’ve noted that many undesirable stories demonstrate the need for better preparation, not protection from the media.
Before visions of wily, sleuth-like reporters begin dancing in your head, take a minute to recognize the opportunity. Here are some basic interview preparation suggestions that can help you tell the story that you want people to read.
Be familiar with your local media
Follow the work of area reporters. Learn what types of stories they do and the style of interviews they conduct. Reputable news organizations do not want poorly executed stories to air or publish any more than you do. By having a good understanding of the pace of your local news, you will know when it is a privilege to be asked and when it is better to politely decline.
Find your angle
Plan out what you want the story to accomplish, and develop your key messages as though you are preparing a speech. The reporter’s job is to find an angle for the story that they can report. Help them out by delivering good content that is interesting and informative to the general public. Remove self-serving remarks and trite phrases that don’t meet your goal; however, feel free to offer a way for the public to contact you if they need
Leave it out
Only offer comments to your reporter that you want to have published. Phrases like “off the record” and “don’t print this, but…” should have no place in the conversation. Even the most well-meaning journalist will still have learned the information from you, and it could accidentally sneak into the story.
Further, if a reporter phrases something incorrectly, never repeat the false information. Oftentimes the editor of the news story was not part of your conversation, so inaccurate sound bites and quotations could make their way out of the context of your reporter’s notes…and into the story.
Follow the Golden Rule
Mutual respect and professionalism are key to working with your local media. Being on time, prepared and helpful makes a good impression. Good impressions lead to further opportunities. If you are pleased with how the story comes out, a simple “thank you” or “well done” is certainly appreciated. If you are displeased with the story or believe it to be inaccurate, a polite phone call to your journalist is all that is needed.
We cover all of this and more in the media training we conduct for our clients, but these suggestions can help you put your best foot forward when the interview call comes in.