Media interviews can happen anywhere – in-person, on the phone or virtually. Regardless of where the interview takes place and with whom, you need to make sure you have your messaging and talking points ready to go. Preparation is the word of the day.
Typically, an interview will focus the attention around one topic or theme. For example, you might be meeting with a reporter to discuss a new service your business has implemented and how it can benefit your audience. But that doesn’t mean a reporter will only stick to that one topic. Reporters may weave in questions that take the attention away to a more controversial or unrelated topic. But, if you prepare, you will be ready with all of the information and responses to get back on track.
Your first step in preparing for your interview is to make sure you can easily answer the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of your topic. From there, outline your messages. Focus on at least three main statements that you want your audience to understand followed by supporting messaging for each statement.
Do your best to simplify, summarize and streamline all of your information. Make your interview time count. Any data or statistics that you share should be relatable to your audience and not bogged down with industry speak. If you need to use industry jargon, explain it so the reporter and your audience can easily understand it. Additionally, have your sources or support materials ready to go if a reporter should ask for them.
While you are compiling your messaging, try to think of potential questions that the reporter may ask and the best way to respond to them. You don’t want to be caught off-guard by a question, especially if it relates to the topic at hand. Also think about questions that could potentially take you off topic or into controversial territory. If you can predict where a reporter may want to steer the conversation you can have the responses ready to bring the focus back.
Preparing for any interview, regardless of how it will be conducted, does not need to be done alone. Bring your team in to help you formulate messages, discuss potential questions. To make it a fun activity, play a game of “interview improv” to test out new messages or freshen up old ones. Learn how to play here.