Techniques On Delivering Messages to the Media
Media interviews can be nerve-racking. Whether you’re being interviewed about a challenge your company is facing or an initiative your brand is starting, knowing your words will be out there for people to hear or read (and trusting a reporter to deliver them accurately) can be intimidating.
No matter the situation, it’s important to remember that a media interview can be an excellent opportunity to reach a huge audience, set the record straight and get your message across. Here are some tips on how to ace your media interview:
1. Know What You Want to Say
People with plenty of media training will know that a successful media interview is when you give the journalist short, clean clips that summarize the main points of the topic you’re discussing. Before your interview, think of the key messages you want to get across. Then, during the interview, find ways to fit them in or refer back to them in a way that feels natural.
We generally advise that you should know the one thing that you want the reporter to get across (and for the reader or viewer to understand). You’ll need to be able to support that one key message with your back story, but never lose sight of the one thing you want people to understand.
2. Know Your Target Audience
Not only should you know what you want to say, but you should also have a grasp of how you want to say it. This means you must know who your target audience is. Where do they live? What do they do? How much do they understand about the topic? Knowing your audience will make it easier to explain your messages. Depending on your audience, you may want to avoid difficult language or use examples that your audience can easily relate to.
3. Don’t Ramble
Your audience will lose interest if you speak for too long, so make sure your answers are clear, simple and to-the-point. When you ramble, the interview becomes unfocused, making it difficult for the audience to understand your key messages. Worse, when you ramble you’re usually not giving the reporter a usable quote. That means you’re asking the reporter to paraphrase your thoughts, which is often a recipe for disaster. Reporters aren’t the experts, you are.
4. Create Soundbites As You Speak
A soundbite is a short snippet of speech that summarizes your opinion. Think of it as the verbal equivalent to a pull quote in an article. Some ways to create an interesting soundbite are to cite a statistic, use a personal story or anecdote, or describe an example that puts the topic into context.
5. Use Bridging Techniques
Bridging is a way of transitioning from an unhelpful question and shifting the focus to one of your key messages. Saying something like, “Before I answer that, let’s look at the big picture…” allows you to acknowledge the reporter’s question and refocus the interview on topics you want to discuss. The goal of bridging is not to avoid a journalist’s questions but rather to make sure the framing of a question doesn’t mislead the audience into believing false information about your company.
6. Practice, Then Practice Some More
Overall, the key to acing a media interview is to practice. Journalists will be prepared, so you should be too. They may ask tough questions, but by practicing your answers and understanding what you hope to accomplish in the interview, you’re more likely to maintain control of the conversation and get your key messages across.
Remember, you’re in control of what you say and how you say it. And, like a good dance partner, you can lead the reporter to where you want the interview to go. Don’t just expect reporters to know what you want to say or what’s most important. That’s your job.