How to ace a media interview

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

“Hello busy entrepreneur. It’s the media calling. We want to schedule an interview.”

Does the prospect of being interviewed scare you silly? Don’t panic — prepare. Positive editorial coverage can put you and your company in the spotlight, says Kasey Wilson, a Vancouver-based, award-winning writer and broadcaster. Imagine telling your story to thousands of potential customers at once, she says: “You just can’t buy that kind of coverage.”

But how can you ensure you communicate clearly? A good interview, says Wilson, is one in which the interviewee is accurate, concise, quotable and honest. Here are Wilson’s tips for turning in a star performance.

Find out why you are being interviewed

“If you get an unexpected call from media, ask what the ‘focus’ or the ‘angle’ of the story is. Most will be happy to explain why they want to talk to you and what their story is about. This will help prepare you for the interview, plus give you a few extra moments to collect your thoughts.”

Try to anticipate questions and come with answers

“Ask yourself what you would say in response to those questions. Finally, picture yourself in the audience and listen to your answers — do they sound sincere or stilted? Stick to a few key points you can stress in each answer.”

Appoint one spokesperson during times of crisis

“Keep one person available to the media at all times (including evenings in the event of a crisis). By having a single spokesperson, you avoid having two people contradict each other. If the matter is particularly technical, you can have an additional person offer details, but refer policy and opinion questions back to the appointed person.”

Make yourself available

“Return reporters’ calls quickly and be aware of their deadlines. And make a point of thanking reporters for getting back to you quickly if they do. If you promise further information, follow through promptly. This establishes mutual respect and helps ensure your material stays top-of-mind with the reporter.”

Another helpful tip: “If you are ever asked to be a guest on a television talk show, or are requested to be interviewed for a news story, always try to supply the reporter with written information about yourself and the organization you represent (e.g., a fact sheet, personal backgrounders, news releases). The reporter will greatly appreciate your assistance, and the chances of having your story misrepresented are considerably lessened.” Also send any audio or visual materials well before the interview.

Read other pointers on How To contribute to your business success!

© 2004 Jennifer O’Connor

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com