April 6 2022
Even managers most prepared to speak in public and to meet the most varied stakeholders are often reluctant to speak with the media and do not know what to do when invited to give a media interview.
Whether the interview is a first time or an already familiar situation, success depends on several factors that need to be taken care of carefully. In fact, effective interviews are the result of adequate preparation and training on subjects ranging from the quality of answers to the use of body language. No element of the interaction should be neglected.
First, it is essential to rely on a well-structured media training, with the aim of designing valuable interactions with the media through careful and personalized preparation. This type of training is aimed at improving performance both in front of a microphone and a camera to confidently address the various topics of interest to the journalists and answer questions clearly and effectively.
The press office plays a crucial role in this context, as it is responsible for getting the spokesperson prepared and facilitating communication between the organization and the media. Being the industry experts, PR professionals can provide precise advice and guidance to improve media relations skills.
It may seem there are main points and aspects to keep in mind when preparing for a media interview. Below is a list of the five most relevant tips for giving effective media interviews.
It is not only the reporter who has to investigate on the person they are about to meet, but also the interviewee. It is useful to read the articles recently written by the journalist or, in the case of a TV program, watch some episodes, paying attention to their style, the way they ask questions and the topics they focus on. Check if they have spoken, and how, about your company or competitors earlier.
Select some key messages to focus on and try to communicate them effectively. Clarity is essential: so that you are not “dragged” by the flow of the interview, it is good to identify in advance the most relevant content for your brand and focus on the aspects you want to highlight during the interview. To make the conversation more impactful, make sure your answers are clear and to the point. If available, make use of supporting elements such as reliable data and sources.
Always check with your press office what content can be shared with the media. Keep in mind that the reporter may also questions about current events: check your company’s position on the main hot topics of the moment to be able to respond promptly and consistently with the vision and messaging of your organization.
The reporter, often voluntarily, may ask uncomfortable questions. In these cases, it is advisable not to evade the question, but to answer without going into rough terrain. A simple “no comment” may not be accepted or may be misinterpreted by the journalist and give rise to untrue assumptions. It is therefore a better option to offer, as much as possible, any new topics that could interest the media and to be prepared to give adequate answers that, without releasing unwanted information or personal comments, allow you to exit difficult situations with elegance and ease.
From grammar and rules, to posture and gestures, make sure you take care of all aspects of language. Even the tone of voice, the look and the facial expressions are elements that influence the way how a message is conveyed and perceived. In fact, it may happen that the message sent with verbal language is not confirmed by non-verbal language, causing misunderstandings or, more simply, lack of clarity.
Honesty and consistency are key when expressing your message. Also, do not try to fill the natural silences that may arise during an interview, but take the opportunity to regain concentration and prepare yourself for the next question.