Interview Insights

Maybe you have a story you want the media to cover. Or maybe the media wants to talk to you – about good OR bad news. In either case, there are some time-tested ways to avoid the pitfalls many run into when doing interviews. To start, follow these tips:

Go into every interview knowing the three or four main points (key messages) you want to communicate, and reinforce them at every opportunity.
Anticipate questions the reporter might ask, and prepare ahead of time how to answer them. An interview is not a casual conversation. You need to be ready for it.
Do NOT speculate. If you don’t know, say you don’t know and offer to find out.
Learn to speak in sound bites for broadcast interviews – meaning to get your key points across in 20 seconds or less.
Avoid “no comment.” It makes it sound like you’re hiding something. If you can’t provide a comment, give a reason why.
Stay away from “off-the-record” statements. You’ll be okay if you go by the rule of thumb that you wouldn’t be upset to see anything you say in the news.
Listen to the whole question. This gives you a chance to start composing an answer in your mind and figuring out the best way to factor in your key points.
Don’t leave confidential or other sensitive documents on your desk if you’re talking to a reporter in your office. If it’s in view, it’s fair game.
Don’t be intimidated by silence. Sometimes a reporter will stop talking so you’ll fill an awkward silent gap and maybe say something you otherwise wouldn’t say. Wait it out.
Finally, of course, don’t lie. The truth will come out in the end, and your credibility is on the line!
Need help pitching your story and preparing for interviews?
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© 2013 Mindy F. Berman Communications. All rights reserved.