This advice post on preparing for media interviews was inspired by the closing remarks of Harry, the ‘difficult client’ in this clip from Absolute Power, a BBC comedy series about a public relations firm starring Stephen Fry. I’ve posted the entire clip but the salient comments are towards the end. Most people, I’d hope, would be starting from a stronger position than Harry and with a few pointers should be able to give a good media interview. There are lots of variables to consider in each individual case but, for starters, here are ten general points that should serve anyone well. I’ll provide a few more soon.
- Be prepared and be helpful: anticipate the likely questions in advance and how you will answer them concisely
- Gather supporting material such as useful, credible facts and figures on the subject in question
- If time permits, read the publication/watch the programme and find out what the journalist has written in the past on the same subject. A useful site for this is www.journalisted.com
- Be very clear who the end audience is. Make sure you speak through the interviewer to them, and in terms they will understand
- Think of no more than three points you want to get across and stick to them. If a natural way to bring these into the conversation doesn’t happen, then create one: “Of course that’s interesting, but the really important thing is…….”
- A useful aide-memoire is the four C’s: be credible, clear, concise and confident. Think before you speak, speak in short sentences and with authority. Avoid jargon
- Don’t get bogged down in detail, give the main points then offer to expand if the journalist appears interested
- Try to deploy a memorable ‘soundbite’. For example: Politician Ken Clarke on the BBC talking about prison policy said the opposition party (Blunkett & Reid) had a “cheque book in one hand and a copy of The Daily Mail in the other”
- Tone down the selling: journalists do not write advertisements for your company
- Be interesting and memorable: what stories, anecdotes or case studies can you offer that liven up the conversation?
Do you agree? What would you add? Let me know using the comments box below.