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Our good friends at Beuerman Miller Fitzgerald put out a great newsletter this week. As they say:
One thing we hear a lot from clients with potentially hostile or dramatic media challenges is that "media interviews are a losing proposition." "They are a 'no win' because reporters are out to get us." "No matter what I say they'll make me look bad." For these reasons and many more, some clients make a potentially bad situation even worse by making interviews far more difficult and complex than they should be.
12 quick tips to help clear the clutter and focus on those things that really matter in an interview:
- Interview the interviewer. How much do they know? Who else are they talking to? What, specifically are they looking for? Interviews are a two-way street. Communication should flow both ways.
- Put yourself in the reporter's shoes? If you were them, what would you ask?
- Place time limits on your interview right up front.
- Place topical limits on the interview as needed: "I can talk about several of these issues but I'm not at liberty to discuss X at this time."
- Be conversational. Treat the interview as a guarded, cautious conversation, not an inquisition.
- Keep the pre- and post-interview chit chat at a minimum. The reporter is always listening and the camera is always on.
- Rehearse your key comments with a colleague as much as possible in advance.
- Know your strengths but also know your vulnerabilities and how you'll deal with them.
- Be brief. Make your point and STOP! Interviews are like a tennis match. Their turn...your turn. Their turn...your turn.
- Practice "framing" your most important points so the reporter has no choice but to recognize that they're key. "Here's what's most important...." "What I really want you to understand is...." "If I could stress one key point it would be...."
- Don't speculate and don't ever say or confirm anything you're not fully certain of. There's nothing wrong with: "I don't have that information" or "I'm not certain of that and can't comment on it."
- After the interview ends, make a quick, graceful exit. Do not hang around.