PR is a constantly changing industry, but a few aspects are guaranteed: 1. You will never finish your to-do list. 2. There is always more to learn. 3. Helping clients achieve the best coverage means interviews with the media.
Even the most prepared managers are often reluctant to speak with the media and don’t know what to do when invited to give an interview. They would benefit from the help of communications professionals.
Whether the interview is a success depends on several factors. Effective interviews result from careful preparation and training on elements from the quality of answers to the use of body language. No element of the interaction can afford to be neglected.
Your communications team or agency plays a crucial role in this context, as it is responsible for getting the spokesperson prepared to speak to the media on behalf of their company. Being industry experts, PR professionals can provide precise advice and guidance to improve media relations skills. Below is a list of the five most relevant tips for giving effective media interviews.
Be as knowledgeable about the reporter as they are about your company, if not more informed. It is helpful to read recent and relevant articles or broadcast segments by the journalist or reporter. Pay attention to their style, the way they ask questions and the topics on which they focus. Check if they have mentioned your company or competitors before and in what context.
Be Clear and Concise
Select a few key messages on which to focus and communicate them effectively. Clarity is essential. Identify the most relevant content or points for your spokesperson to highlight during the interview. Make the conversation more impactful by keeping your answers clear and pithy – this also makes for great soundbites. If available, use supporting elements such as reliable data and sources.
Be Consistent with Your Brand Messaging
Always confirm what content can be shared with the media. Keep in mind that the reporter may also ask questions about current events. Check your company’s position on the main hot topics of the moment to respond promptly and consistently with the vision and messaging of your organization.
Know the Weak Points of Your Company and its Place in the Market
The reporter may ask uncomfortable questions. If this does happen, do not evade the question, but answer truthfully without elaborating more than necessary. Avoid “no comment,” as that may be misinterpreted by the journalist, giving rise to untrue assumptions. A better option is to offer, as much as possible, any other relevant information that could interest the journalist. Be prepared to give answers that allow you to exit difficult situations with elegance and ease without releasing unwanted information or individual opinions.
Train Your Verbal and Non-Verbal Language
From grammar and tone to posture and gestures, make sure you take care of all aspects of language. Tone of voice, demeanor, and facial expressions are elements that influence the way 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. 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.