8 Tips for Nailing that Media Interview

Becoming a trusted source for a journalist is one of the best ways to achieve expert status and build credibility. Reporters are required to produce content at a dizzying pace; making it imperative to understand their world, be accessible and provide information they need in a digestible format. Reporters we work with today frequently return to the same source over and over because they know they will get great insights from them in a timely fashion to make their deadlines. If we make his or her jobs easier, everyone wins. Understanding the media landscape is simply the price of entry. Knowing how to get those pithy and accurate quotes in print requires a strategic approach. Here are the eight tips for becoming a chosen source:

  1. Check jargon at the door: Speak in plain English! While you may be immersed and unfazed by the language you use in your everyday conversations with colleagues and clients, reporters are turned off by it. Think about the audience that they are writing for who also may not be familiar with it. Don’t rely on them to decipher what you are saying or they may interpret it differently or may not quote you at all.
  2. Prepare properly: If they are not on a crazy tight deadline, ask the reporter if they can either provide questions in advance or give you a general sense of what they want to cover. Then practice your answers with either your PR agency or another person on your communications team. If it’s a phone interview, jot down your main points to make sure that these are clearly communicated.
  3. Use sound bites: Practice your key messages in short, punchy sentences that leave no doubt as to what the main points are. It’s your fault if reporters don’t quote you properly when you ramble on and bury your key messages.
  4. Familiarize yourself with what the reporter writes about and their style. Read their last few stories and even comment on them at the start of an interview. Reporters appreciate that you follow them and respect their work. This will help establish a good relationship and give you an idea of what they like to write about. Also, follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn and share their articles on your own social media channels.
  5. Do not speak off the record: If you don’t want to see it in their story, then don’t say it. Anything and everything you say during an interview is fair game.
  6. Thank them after the interview: Both your time and theirs is precious. Respect that and you’ll be called on again for future stories. Ask for their email address and tell them that if you think of anything else, you’ll email them the additional info before their deadline.
  7. Repeat the spelling of your name, title, company, and how you want the attribution to read: i.e. a brand strategy firm, digital marketing agency, etc.
  8. Don’t ask to review the article before publication: Journalists will not provide you with a copy before the story is published. It’s not feasible time wise, nor is it a sound journalistic practice to allow a source to review their work. If you’ve followed the above tips, you can be confident that you will be quoted properly and fairly.

Few experts are naturally good at interviews. Great sources practice and, with time, become great, credible experts.