Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Top Tips for Acing your Next Media Interview

Over on LinkedIn, my friend and occasional crony Michael Corcoran offered his thoughts today on best practices in training business people to speak to the media. Then he tagged me to add my thoughts. 

So here we go. 

First, Mike's big idea for mastering media interviews: 

"As a spokesperson, your primary job is NOT to answer an interviewer's questions; it's to deliver your key messages effectively. 

"That doesn't mean you don't answer the questions. It means using each one as an opportunity to tie your answer back to one of 3-5 key messages you want to convey to the media outlet's audience.

"Recognizing this distinction not only starts media training off with a huge lesson but puts subsequent tips, tricks and practices into their proper context." 

 Mike also suggests: 
 - finding out questions and planning your answers well before the interview starts 
 - recognizing nothing is off the record 
- resisting the temptation to fill moments of silence (like after a short, crisp answer).

These are all sound strategies for surviving media interviews. But I added a few of my own. 

 My advice: 

 1. Always tell the truth. Your "spin" does not outrank your personal commitment to truth. If you lose credibility, you put your career at risk. 

2. Try to create rapport (small talk) with media before the interview starts. Building trust starts early and never stops. 

 3. Know the audience you most want to reach. What is the message they most want/need to hear? 

4. Even when you ask for questions in advance, media usually reserve the right to ask additional questions - which may come to them on the spot, or may have been reserved as a surprise. Expect the unexpected, and stay calm even when pressed. 

 5. Make your job easier by promoting ethical behaviour, transparency and accountability at your organization. The best cover-up is no cover-up.