So, your business has secured a timeslot for a radio or tv interview, what next?
From the initial enquiry coming into the press office, to the airing of the interview, there are many steps to managing press opportunities. Here is a quick introduction on how best to prepare for a press interview.
1. Get all the information you can
This is a crucial step in acing a press opportunity and it starts when the journalist/producer picks up the phone or sends the first introductory email. Whether you have a dedicated press office or the business owner acts as the point of contact, it is important that you get as much information about the opportunity as you can. It is also vital that you respond to the enquiry as soon as possible. The world of media moves fast, and the spot may already be filled if left too long!
Things to ask include:
- The name of the media outlet
- The subject they are looking to cover
- Type of media
- Expected airing time and on what broadcast will this appear
- Name of interviewer
- Length of interview and if it is live or recorded
- Any expected questions
- Deadline for response
Usually, any press opportunity is a good opportunity for a business, however there maybe subjects that you are unwilling to be associated with and that go against your brand’s positioning. Therefore, it is always important to gather as much information as possible prior to the interview.
2. Brief the interviewee
When a nominated spokesperson is put forward and a date and time is locked in, it is important to brief the interviewee as best as possible.
Journalists may be unwilling to give exact questions however queries like ‘what subject matters will be covered’ can point you in the right direction to best prepare for the interview. Think of any curve ball questions that could be thrown at the interviewee or any tricky subject matters around the topic being covered. They may never come up, but if they do you or your spokesperson will be prepared.
If the opportunity is a live broadcast, it may be worth going through your responses and ensure they match any allocated time to the interview slot, ensure the answers are short, concise and to the point. Hit all those points and ensure you or your spokesperson show personality and do not over rely on cue cards and appear sounding like a corporate robot.
3. Set-up prep
If your interview is taking place over teams, ensure your set up is suitable. Avoid dimly lit rooms or a set-up where the sunlight will be shining strongly on your face.
If you are looking to gain regular press opportunities, you may consider investing in a ring light which can improve visibility and give you that professional look.
Be mindful of your background! – everyone remembers Prof Robert Kelly’s BBC interview and a surprise appearance of his children and the rest of his family.
Pets also can sometimes enjoy the spotlight, so making sure they are well fed or sleeping may be a good idea.
Whilst working from home, if you do not have access to a dedicated office and have to make use of space, ensure nothing is in the background that may be unsuitable for viewers, any pictures, mess or even laundry could make a surprise appearance and be harmful to your brand.
Always be aware of when the camera is rolling. Avoid singing ‘we’re in the money’ like Sainsbury boss, Mike Coupe, with the looming subject of potential staff cuts!
4. Relax and be personable
Ensure that you or your spokesperson have a conversational tone and interact with the interviewer. The best interviewees offer thought and opinion to their responses, have practical examples ready to demonstrate to ensure you come across as the expert in your field.
Building relationships with journalists or TV schedulers may require you to be flexible and ready at short notice, however this will pay off in the long run. Being a go to contact for media can help your business gain that competitive advantage and increase your brand awareness.