It can be very hard landing that big newspaper interview opportunity, so knowing how to excel in the print interview is critical to ensuring that you get the most from it. If you have a PR agency, they should be able to prepare you to do your best, but if not, these tips should help.
A print media interview can appear in many forms. It could be part of a feature piece which allows you to be more descriptive and detailed with your answers, or a Q&A style, which requires shorter and more impactful responses. It could even be the case that you’re one of multiple interviewees for a single piece, which means your answers should aim to separate you from the crowd.
These media interviews don’t need to be a daunting experience. By following some simple rules of thumb, you can elevate your print media interview opportunities and position yourself as someone the media can turn to for intelligent comment or insight. Below is an excellent example of a recent interview that was very well prepared for in a prominent national newspaper.
Here are our five top tips to help you to excel in print media interviews.
1. Be prepared
As the saying goes – fail to prepare, prepare to fail. If you have a PR agency, they should give you good briefing notes on the interview, its format, and the context so that you can be knowledgeable, articulate and be able to speak authentically about your topic. It’s important to familiarise yourself with the publication in question and know the audience.
If it’s a phone interview, don’t be afraid to keep your notes in front of you as you’re speaking (but try to avoid sounding scripted – focus on your top three messages that you want to communicate). In some cases, you may be provided the questions in advance, which gives a great opportunity to hone your answers.
Pepper your answers with your key messages and repeat if necessary; if a journalist hears something more than once, this will indicate that you deem it important or relevant to the media interview. It’s acceptable to say “I don’t know” if you can’t answer something, but try to steer into something you do know (relevant to the question).
2. Engage the interviewer
Be enthusiastic about your topic. For face-to-face or video interviews, try to convey positive body language - sit upright in your chair, avoid crossing your arms, use your hands – but not too much - and make good eye contact with the journalist as you’re speaking.
Give clear opinions and avoid going off-topic or talking just to fill space. Answering with short, snappy sentences keeps the interviewer engaged and in turn, provides fodder for strong quotes. Pay attention to your voice and speak slowly and clearly to deliver your message; journalists will thank you for it.
3. Back up what you say
Journalists love numbers! Where possible, have relevant proof points, facts and stats on hand to back up what you’re saying. These could include relevant data from industry sources, or your company’s own research. Be able to talk about real life projects e.g. a digital transformation solution for a pharma company, and if you have permission to name the customer, even better.
4. Cut the jargon!
It’s vital to reduce jargon as much as possible. One of Ireland’s most prominent national media journalists asks his interviewees to talk in such a simple way that even his elderly parents would be able to understand. In many cases, the print media interview will be reaching a non-tech audience, and even the journalists themselves may not specialise in writing about tech. Cutting the jargon from your answers will put you in good standing with the journalist and prevent them from having to decipher the information for their readers later.
5. Add some colour
Where appropriate, use anecdotes or analogies and be descriptive with your answers. This is useful material that the journalist can use to bring the story to life.
To sum up…
Ultimately, journalists want to write interesting, engaging stories, so they’re not trying to trip you up. It’s unlikely the journalists you’ll be speaking to will have any ‘gotcha’ questions up their sleeves. So, relax and enjoy the interview as much as possible!
Remember – nothing’s ever really off the record! Only mention something if you’re entirely happy for it to be included in the article.
Talk to us today about how a PR agency like Comit can help you to grow your business.