Crushing a News Interview

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6 Tips for Crushing Your News Interview

By Alex Altman
Whether you’re a rookie or a veteran when it comes to giving media interviews, it never hurts to go over some best practices. Here are six tips for giving an interview that positions you and your company in a favorable light, and helps you make the most of your opportunity to get your name out there.

  • Research Reporter: Whether it’s the tone of their articles or the stories they choose to cover, every reporter has certain tendencies. Reading previous articles by the reporter will shed light on the type of interview — and maybe even the type of questions — you can expect.
    • Is the reporter a by the numbers guy
    • Does the reporter come with research in hand or will they ask for supporting materials
    • Get to know the reporter when they arrive – be friendly
  • Rehearse Talking Points: When handled properly on your part, a news story can be like an endorsement from a friend. This begs the question: if your friend asked for advice, what are the one or two things you’d want to share? Identify these talking points and then practice organic ways to weave them into the conversation.
  • Be Succinct: Reporters have to compress your entire interview into a narrow column on a newspaper, a short blog that people will actually read, or a swift time slot on the news. This isn’t easy. So, while you should answer questions thoroughly, don’t needlessly drag on or repeat yourself, because the more notes they need to transcribe, the more difficult it will be for the reporter to cull your most crucial talking points.
  • Steer the Conversation: It’s no surprise that interviews almost never go as planned. Because while you want to stick with your talking points, reporters can’t help but to inspect under the hood and see if there’s a more compelling story to be found. If the interview starts to go off the rails, keep your wits about you; but after answering a couple of questions, politely pivot the conversation back to where you want it.
    1. The interview is yours to control
    2. Remember to come back to the talking point – transitions
    3. Answer the question you want to answer – repeat often if needed
  • Put a Bow On It: “Is there anything else you’d like to add?” Disguised as a formality at the end of an interview, this question is arguably the most important you’ll be asked, as it offers an opportunity to reinforce key talking points and convince the reporter about what’s really worth sharing.
  • Follow Up: After the interview, send the reporter a friendly email thanking them for the time, and offering to provide additional quotes, photos, charts or information if needed. Reporters appreciate the courtesy, even if they already have everything they need, which will help with relationship-building.

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