How do you prepare for a successful media interview? While this article will cover only the basics, it may be enough to make the difference between your looking good or being embarrassed.
In previous installments, we have discussed the benefits and risks of doing interviews with the news media. We have also discussed the need to follow your organization’s media policies and procedures. In the last article, you learned how to conduct a pre-interview so you can better know what to expect.
But you’re not ready to talk to the reporter just yet—you need some time to prepare. Usually you will have time before the reporter arrives or calls. If a radio or print reporter wants to talk to you immediately on the phone, you can also gain some time to prepare by simply saying you want a couple of minutes to organize your thoughts and that you will promptly call back.
Some preparation only makes sense. What if you were going to speak to an auditorium of 100 people? You’d prepare, right? Well, consider that the people who will see/hear/read your interview are many times that number. You would not stand up to give a speech without thinking about what you wanted to say and how you would say it. Similarly, avoid trying to “wing it” in an interview.
Here are the simple steps I recommend to prepare for a basic interview. This needn’t take long but even a few quiet moments of preparation time can give you a plan of how to proceed, and the confidence to execute that plan.