Media interviews are an important component of public relations. With every interview, a company’s brand and reputation is being put out in front of the public eye. This can put a lot of pressure on the company or organization’s representative being interviewed. Appearing on TV or live radio can be a stressful experience causing excessive anxiety and a lack of confidence. So the question is: how do you ensure a smooth, dignified, and professional interview that ultimately benefits a business, issue, or cause, rather than ruining reputation and damaging a brand? Here are the five key ways to excel at media interviews:
- Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
One of best ways to ruin an interview is to go into it unprepared. First, find out who will be interviewing you so you can research their background, including their interview style. Preparing for an interview means knowing, not memorizing, the messages you want to convey. You must make sure you are completely informed about your subject so you can get your messages across in a clear and concise way. It is better to focus on three key messages rather than overwhelming the interviewer and audience with a wide range of convoluted ideas. Take the time to get to know your audience and tailor your messages to them. When you are prepared, you will be ready for the unexpected and you will be much more relaxed.
- Media Training
One of the most effective ways to ensure a successful interview is to invest in some training by public relations professionals. PR professionals will help train you in presenting content and answering questions, while also developing your speaking etiquette. This includes training on avoiding “umms” and “uhhs” when speaking. Also, speak like a regular person rather than using jargon and acronyms. You want to speak to the audience on their level, and not speak above them. Do not speak like how you speak with work peers or colleagues. Plain speech is best as it helps to get key messages across in a clear manner that can be easily understood by a broad audience. Make your points simple and succinct while putting the answer in a relevant context.
- Choose Your Words Wisely
Decide on talking points beforehand with particular wording that best fits your message. For example replace “top Priority” and “committed” with the word “goal.” Using the words “committed” and “top priority” have become so overused that they have lost their impact. Replacing them with the word “goal” is more impactful as it is a concrete statement. It is something that you are aspiring to achieve. Regardless of the issues being discussed, avoid tired clichés because people have heard them so many times that it often goes “in one ear and out the other.”
- Be Mindful of Editing
When you are interviewed it can last for an hour or more. However, only a certain portion will make it to air. This means the interviewer, producers, and editors will decide what is the best material to air. Therefore you have to make sure the information you provide is valuable and engaging. You could repeat a few of your key points making them brief and concise because long winded answers will not make it to air. Anything that may seem like self-promotion will likely not make to air either. It is the simple, straightforward, and attention-grabbing content that makes it to air.
- Project Professionalism
When presenting yourself in front of an audience you should project professionalism. This will include your attire, and your demeanor and mannerisms. When deciding what to wear, smart looking and comfortable is a good choice. Don’t wear anything too loose, too tight, too low-cut, or too short. Keep in mind that bright colours, clothing with lots of patterns and designs or excessive bright jewelry, will only draw attention away from the discussion. Complimentary tones are a good choice. As well, projecting confidence, and not arrogance, is important. Breathe and speak at a calm and steady rate, and don’t fidget. Do not get irritated and try not to interrupt the interviewer. Avoid excessive had gestures and facial expressions, but remember smiling is important.
It can be overwhelming and incredibly stressful to find yourself in front of a camera or live on the radio, especially if you’re not experienced in public speaking. A lot of work is involved with holding interviews. Both the interviewer and interviewee must go into an interview well prepared, knowledgeable about the subject, and know the important topics. Without the proper preparation, a media interview can quickly become a disaster that can result in long lasting damage to you and your organization’s reputation.