The media world has changed dramatically in recent years, as newsrooms have downsized and attention to social media has grown. But make no mistake, media outlets remain a vital part of any communications plan. That’s why it is important to understand how to make the most of any opportunity to speak with a news organization. Here are some tips to keep in mind when speaking to a reporter:
1. Be Aware of Your Key Messages.
Media opportunities are precious opportunities. Don’t squander them. Identify the key messages or points that you want to deliver, and don’t waste time with unnecessary background or detail. A reporter’s time is limited, and brevity is valued. The sooner you communicate your main points, the greater the chances that they’ll end up in the story, and not in the dustbin.
2. An Interview Is a Two-Way Street.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you don’t need to answer a reporter’s questions. Answer them, but look for opportunities to include your key messages as part of your responses. Provide context, and repeat if necessary. Simply reciting talking points without answering questions is the quickest way to lose credibility with a journalist.
3. Polish and Practice.
Whether you’re a seasoned communicator or not, practicing your answers is a wise way to smooth out the rough edges. Whether you’re using your Smartphone, a mirror, a friend or a spouse, practicing your responses can help you put them in your own voice, which provides authenticity. Practicing helps you learn to edit yourself, and establish an effective pattern of delivery that is also genuine.
4. If You Don’t Know, Say So.
It helps confidence, when engaging in an interview, to know that you are the subject matter expert. But no one can know everything. Resist the impulse to speculate. If you don’t know the answer, say so, and offer to get the answer or find someone who can address the question. The reporter conducting the interview will appreciate your candor, and you will stay out of quicksand.