Preparing for a press interview

So, your highly talented public relations (PR) team have secured you a fantastic interview with a major media outlet. Great!

This is your chance to really shine but even if you’re a media veteran, turning up on the day unprepared, trying to ‘wing’ it, is risky. To get the best out of a media interview means doing your homework with the support of your PR team.

Preparing is important. Whilst your PR team will certainly be on hand to provide you with expert guidance, support and detailed briefing notes, here are a few things to consider too before that all important interview:-

  • Understand the purpose of the interview – what led to the opportunity and what do you want to achieve from the interview? What is the journalist’s motivation and how does it link back to your company’s overall purpose and messaging?
  • Know who you’re talking to – check out their social media profiles, what topics has the reporter recently written about, what titles have they written for and what areas do they specialise in? Read their most recent articles. Consider the tone, the style and their audience.
  • Think about likely questions – what potential curve balls could they throw in? Then, think through how you would answer. Your PR team should have also obtained a list of questions from the reporter ahead of the briefing or, if these aren’t available, at least a list of areas and topics that the reporter will want to cover.
  • Have the top three key messages in you mind to get across – remind yourself on key corporate messages and know your numbers and recent evidence to support any claims. Hopefully your PR team has recently run a messaging workshop with you so you have all these messages, up to date and to hand, in one easy ‘at a glance’ document.
  • If it’s TV consider how you’ll dress – think about things such as the studio backdrop to ensure you don’t clash or blend in, and avoid tight patterns and stripes.
  • Remember, there’s no such thing as ‘Off the record’ – as soon as you’re in a media setting, you’re always on record even when you think the camera is off – remember Mike Coupe, CEO of Sainsbury’s who was recently caught singing ‘We’re in the Money’ whilst waiting to go on ITV for an interview to discuss the Sainsbury’s and Asda merger? It got more publicity than the actually news on the merger!
  • Finally, ensure you know where you need to be – arriving late is never a great start. It’s good to be early to give yourself time to mentally prepare.

Afterwards, analyse your interview with your PR team to see if there’s room for improvement. A quick media training session is a great way to brush up on your interview techniques or learn new ones.


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