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How to Handle Media Interviews

By October 14, 2019November 10th, 2020Public Relations
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Answering media inquiries is a necessary part of public relations (PR) and protecting your reputation.

PR is not just about promoting your business to various media outlets, it’s about being a trusted source when called upon. If you’re new to responding to journalists and reporters alike, it can be daunting to get started without knowing what to expect.

We compiled five tips for your next interview with the media.

Five Tips When Speaking to the Media

Speaking to the media is best done with a clear plan of what you wish to communicate. With a plan in place, you’ll be prepared to handle any curveballs reporters may throw your way.

Master your responses to media inquiries with these five tips!

1. Determine what you can and cannot say.

Preparation is the best way to avoid having your story misinterpreted by a reporter. Knowing what you want to cover in the discussion beforehand will put your mind at ease.

Be prepared by practicing your response to the toughest questions you can think of. Set a clear line between what you want to get across in the interview and what impression you wish to leave.

2. Don’t sound too scripted. 

Be honest, positive, and straightforward with your responses. Think of the interview as a conversation instead of an interrogation.

Often, the best way to communicate is to be a good listener. Listen closely when the reporter is speaking so you know exactly what they’re asking. Don’t try to finish their sentences or make a guess at what they’re getting at.

3. Develop two or three talking points central to your story.

Having two or three talking points established in advance helps you be prepared with statistics and examples. The reporter will appreciate any facts you have that add clarity and context to the story.

Speaking points also give you something to say in case you seize up during the conversation. Everyone seizes up sometimes, so if you have something prepared, you’ll be able to keep the conversation moving along.

4. Use personal stories to back up your main points.

Humans like speaking to and reading about other humans. We can all relate to personal stories.

Don’t be a robot. Have a personal story or two prepared to help illustrate your points. Interesting, funny and anecdotal information adds color to the story.

Be open and genuine during the interview. It’s always okay to take a pause and collect your thoughts before speaking.

5. Never say “no comment”. It’s okay to not know the answer.

If you simply don’t know the answer to a question, just say so. Saying “no comment” doesn’t tend to do any good. It makes you appear as though you have something important to hide.

Likewise, don’t let words get put in your mouth by the reporter. Politely correct the interviewer if you believe you have been mischaracterized. You are in full control of your answers and can elaborate on what you wish for the story.

Apply These Tips When Responding to Media Inquiries

Good luck with putting these tips to the test! You’ll be a pro at handling responses to the media in no time.

If the press is asking any pressing questions you are not in a position to answer, it’s okay to ask if you can get back to them later. Tell them specifically when you will or refer them to another source.

Remember, it’s their job to ask the tough questions, but it’s your job to provide accurate information and be an authority.

HS can help to ensure you make the right impression with media inquiries. Contact us to learn more. We also offer media training as a service for guidance on what to expect in media interviews and how to prepare for them.