Delivering a strong message and making sure it is clear, effective and memorable in a media interview is not as easy as it seems. In fact, many business owners miss opportunities to be quoted because they don’t communicate clearly. Lori Teranishi, founder and principal of IQ PR Inc., offers these tips to ensure your next interview successfully represents you and your company.
1. Be prepared Just as you prepare for any important business meeting, it’s essential to do your research: Check the reporter’s background and what kinds of stories he or she has written. “This could indicate if the story you’re being interviewed for will have a positive or negative tone,” Teranishi says. Also, jot down your key messages, dress appropriately (you could be photographed), know your target audience and, most important, “Anticipate the questions that could arise and practice how you would respond to them,” she adds.
2. Speak slowly, clearly and concisely “How you say something is just as important as what you say,” Teranishi says. It’s important to be confident, but not cocky, don’t use industry jargon, and understand that the reporter and audience may not be as knowledgeable about the topic as you are, so explain things thoroughly. You’re the expert.
3. Don’t talk just to talk Many inexperienced interviewees feel they must fill silence gaps with more talking “and that’s often when you say something you shouldn’t,” Teranishi says. If you’ve delivered your message effectively, simply pause and wait for the next question.
4. Don’t say, “No comment,” and don’t guess If there’s a question you can’t answer or don’t know the answer to, say, “I would like to find out more information. Can I get back to you?” Take notes during the interview so you can provide the reporter with appropriate information as soon as possible.
5. Perform a self-evaluation No matter where your comments appear in the media, it’s important to review your performance and assess how you can improve for the next interview, Teranishi says. You may see that you need to speak more slowly, improve your posture, refine key messages or seek professional training. As always, practice makes perfect.