Interviews with press can be a highly effective way to get across your business’s message and are a core component of a well-rounded PR campaign. Read on for our advice on managing a media interview, covering everything from setting it up to wrapping it up with the journalist.
Setting up an Interview
- Interviews can crop up in a variety of ways. The best is the pre-arranged, informed interview; the worst is a “door stopping” crisis interview.
- It follows that a pre-arranged interview will mean you can control the event and, to an extent, its outcome.
- Always confirm the details of the interview in writing, usually by e-mail.
- Check the time, the place, the interviewer’s name and whether the interview is to be live or pre-recorded.
- It is also useful to know the approximate length of interview and whether anyone else will be present.
- Check the proposed content of the interview. Importantly you need to know where and how it is to be used. This is the time to refuse the interview if it is appropriate.
- Find out if you can obtain a copy of the interview afterwards.
Just before the Interview
- Give yourself plenty of time before the interview to consider what you want to say. There is nothing worse than rushing to an interview as the interview itself will sound rushed!
- Be sure to have facts to hand just in case they slip your memory. If you do need to refer to them say so boldly and make it obvious that they are important facts that need to be right!
- Make sure you are comfortable before the interview starts. Take a moment to glance around and check there are no obvious distractions and that your background is professional.
- Ensure your connection is good (if the interview is being held online), your mobile is switched to silent and your office calls have been diverted.
- Are the conditions right for you – is the sun in your eyes, are you going to shiver with cold or perspire with heat?
Warm up the atmosphere
- Do chat to the interviewer informally before the interview. You can confirm what is required of you and gauge whether the interview is likely to be formal or relaxed.
- A word of caution, beware the very relaxed interviewer – they may hide a steely interior, a sharp brain and some difficult questions!
- Tell your interviewer how much time you have available but don’t make it so short that you and they feel rushed.
During the Interview
The Physical impact
- Try to stand if possible (online interviews can usually be held standing without it being obvious!) This will give better sound quality and can make you feel more in control.
- If you have to sit down i.e. at a Press Conference, then pull yourself up from your stomach to open your chest and improve sound quality.
- If you know you have a soft voice, aim to project your comments through the interviewer’s head and beyond.
Nerves and Emotions
- Everyone can feel nervous about speaking or being interviewed, especially if it is live.
- Deep breaths do work. Wait until you are just getting into place and then take them. Slowly inhale through the nose and slowly exhale through the mouth. A couple should help and it doesn’t have to be obvious!
- Nerves can make people race their speech. They can also make people add in familiar phrases by the dozen and trail off sentences – be prepared for all of the above!
- Don’t worry about taking a pause before you answer, it can almost never be too long. If it is lengthy, people will assume you are composing an intelligent answer.
- Knowing your facts helps you to sound credible.
- If you stumble slightly, carry on rather than stop. Remember that your audience is not expecting perfection, what sounds to you like a huge blunder will probably pass the audience by.
- If the interview is for a regional or local audience you can make it relevant by introducing material specific to that area, regional statistics for example.
- You can use the interviewer’s name, but not too often or it sounds contrived.
- Always remain polite and don’t be tempted to embarrass or challenge the interviewer, it will alienate viewers or listeners. Remember that you are appearing on the station they are already listening to, you are the guest!
- Questions do get repeated. The interviewer may be as nervous as you or may be trying to remember their script. Be patient and try to find a different way of answering.
- Use eye contact with the interviewer, they should try to make you feel relaxed, responding to it can make for a great interview.
On the Spot
- If you are anticipating a difficult interview, then thorough research will help. Knowing your facts should help you to handle any difficult questions.
After the interview
- Don’t rush off. The interviewer will need to check everything has recorded.
- Do thank the interviewer for the opportunity and ask them if its possible to grab a copy and when its likely to be transmitted.
We hope this advice helps you with your interviews, remember journalists are human too! You may also be interested in reading our blog about our top tips for preparing for an interview. Our confident communication planning product can help you get the most from working with the media to help you reach your business goals.