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PR Tips: Nailing the (Media) Interview

You or your PR firm have lined up a media opportunity for you…but do you know how to maximize that interview? If you don’t have time for full-on media training, here are some of the tips we provide to our clients, whether their interview will be in person on air, over the phone or even via email – and yes, we review those email responses before sending to the journalist, editor, producer or blogger. When being put on the spot, it is helpful to have a toolkit in place to ensure the interview results in a story with which you and the media (tv, radio, print, online or podcast) will both be happy. 

Some of the common areas we review with clients include simple things (like what to wear and where to look) as well as more complex concepts (like how to handle a question you’d rather not answer, how steer the interview back to intended topic and how to emphasize your main points and messages).

Common Concerns for TV
If you haven’t been on tv, it can be a bit daunting at first – and the interview can happen so quickly, that if you aren’t prepared you will likely get a less-than-desirable result.

  • Look at whomever is talking, not at the camera
  • Avoid being distracted by audiences, crew or passersby when outdoors
  • Wear clothing that won’t distract the viewer…solids are always good (avoid white), but skip items with fine stripes or loud patterns and large jewelry or buttons

Staying on Message
It’s important – but not necessarily easy – to the keep the conversation on the messages that you’re there to deliver. Interviewers know how to get what they want, and these responses can help you shape the conversation more toward what your goals are. Common phrases to use to get back to your message are:

  • That’s not my area of expertise, but I think your audience would like to know…
  • Let me just add that…
  • That reminds me

Highlight Your Message
Let the interviewer and the audience know that you’re about to say something important, with phrases like:

  • What’s most interesting is…
  • The big news is…
  • What we’re really excited to tell you is…

Of course there is much more that goes into securing, preparing for and executing a media interview, but the tips above can help anyone feel a little more confident going into a quotable situation.

~ Ali Greco, Account Supervisor, The S3 Agency


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