Positioning yourself as a trusted expert source for the media provides you with a remarkable and cost-effective way to promote your practice, grow your business and establish one of the most valuable aspects of branding—your credibility. A few column inches in a newspaper or a three-minute interview on your local TV or radio station presents you with a chance to get your company name and services noticed. More importantly, by being quoted in the media, whether it be print, Web or broadcast gives you one of the most powerful third-party endorsements.
However, not everyone possesses natural media skills. For this reason at my firm we have developed a comprehensive Media Training program that all our clients undergo and that empowers them to make the best of every media interaction. One of the core components of this program is to establish what their responsibilities are once they engage in a media interview. Here are some responsibilities to undertake to ensure your time in the spotlight becomes a memorable experience:
Prepare—Beyond getting an interview, preparing for it is the most imperative task. Before the interview, ask what the story is about and what exactly the journalist wants to discuss. Attain a good understanding of your interview topic. Then, take time to prepare and rehearse. If the topic is of a controversial nature, think about the most difficult questions you might be asked and craft some answers. Always have a communication objective that is simple. In articulating it, be persuasive, convincing, credible, and energetic.
Listen!—Paying careful attention to a reporter’s questions is equally important to how you answer them. Never hesitate to ask the reporter to repeat a question. Do NOT answer a question with a question, except to ask for clarification.
Support your Statements—An effective and engaging response to a reporter’s question is a blend of opinions and supporting facts. Recently, during an interview, one of our fund-manager clients was asked to predict where the 30-year U.S. bond yield is heading. He stated his opinion, quickly backed it up by referencing a recent Ned Davis study that corroborated his statement, and offered the journalist a copy of the study.
Deliver Messages—Do not just answer questions; deliver messages that resonate with the audience that particular medium influences. Articulate your messages in a clear and concise manner. Short answers provide great sound bites for radio and television and easy quotes for print. Emphasize your key points and reinforce them with stories, anecdotes and examples—ultimately, what grabs audience attention.
Be Honest—Reporters expect prompt responses and honest answers. It is okay not to have an answer for every question. If a journalist is seeking information about a topic you are not familiar with, just say so. You can also ask the reporter, if time allows, to provide an answer at a later time. Media personnel appreciate honesty. If you don’t have an answer, do NOT speculate. If a reporter realizes you are faking your expertise hoping to be quoted your credibility is irretrievably harmed.
Stay Composed—Always remain calm during an interview; never become defensive toward a question. Be friendly and conversational, but maintain polite control. Never lose your temper and always try to return the conversation to positive dialogue. Remember that reporters nearly always have the final say in an argument.
Uncertain? Don’t Say It!—Here is the golden rule: Never say anything that you don’t want to see printed or broadcast. Nothing is “off the record.” No matter if you are in a formal interview setting or speaking to a reporter socially, a journalist is “always on.” Reporters will take for granted that everything you say to them is on the record and quotable. Lastly, during an interview, when you said all you want to say, STOP talking.
i-Impact Group Inc.