Your PR team's media outreach efforts paid off—they've secured an interview with a key media contact for one of your company's subject-matter experts (SME).
But, with the outreach off the table and everything relying on one real-time conversation, how can you ensure your SME's success? Without overwhelming him or her too much—and potentially adding to the nerves of the situation—here are a few simple tips to share to ensure confidence before, during and after a media interview.
- Look up the contact online: check Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and their media outlet's website.
- Read social media bios and recent updates to understand his or her interests.
- Scan through recent articles, and read 3-5 of them that are closely related to the topic you'll be speaking with them about. Note tone, how quotes are incorporated, how other expert sources are portrayed, etc.
- Know your top 1-3 talking points. These should be tied to brand key messages, as well as key messages for the news at hand. If you aren't sure what these are, ask your marketing, brand and / or PR teams.
- If needed, contact your PR team to develop a specific FAQ, provide a formal media training, and even do a practice Q&A with you. This can be particularly helpful if you're new to media interviews, or if the news is around a sensitive topic, big event or major company announcement.
- Stay calm and confident. Tie answers back to your top talking points / core messages when possible.
- If the interview is via phone, eliminate distractions. Do not speak to a media rep while driving, reading email, etc. Give the contact your 100% focused attention.
- If the interview is in person—even if it's for a print or radio outlet—appearance matters. A photo may be taken, and even if not your impression counts. Try not to wear distracting colors or prints. Ensure your hair, clothing, etc. is well-kept. Put your phone away.
- For audio / video interviews: Slow down. We often speak faster than we realize, particularly when nervous. Take a breath before answering questions to think about what you are going to say, and how you want to say it. Turn off your phone.
- Send a follow-up email to say thank you for the opportunity, and his or her time. Also, provide any mentioned resources or clarify points if needed.
- Contact your PR team to debrief. Let them know what was discussed, how it went, and any insight you have regarding the content and timing for publication or broadcast.
- Consider connecting with the reporter on LinkedIn to further establish your relationship. Be sure to include a personal message in the request.
- If you're on Twitter and the contact is also, follow him or her. To build the relationship over time, consider adding media contacts to a private Twitter list for heavier monitoring and engagement. Sometimes media contacts will mention when they need a source; by monitoring their feeds regularly you'll be among the first to know and respond.
What are your best media interview tips? We'd love to hear them in the comments!