The Importance of Preparing for Every Media Encounter
Media Training Tips for Media Interviews
Media training has become an important part of our media-connected world. Prior to the internet boom, organizations relied on broadcast television and print media to further their messages. With the advent of online media platforms – like Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook – every interview, press release, and statement is distributed to a much wider audience, and can be accessed easily again and again.
With increasing media saturation, audiences want the most important information delivered quickly and clearly. We’ve put together some top media training tips for those who are new to media engagement.
Know Your Audience
Understanding who you are talking to is vital. The interviewer may be standing in front of you, but who is your larger, intended audience?
Are you being interviewed about an aspect of your business, looking to attract customers? Or are you running a non-profit, encouraging people to support a specific cause? Think about your message and who you are trying to reach.
Bring your Notes
Once you know who you’re talking to, condense the most important information into a page or two of notes. You’ll want short, clear sentences that exemplify your message: a solid soundbite can go a long way.
Keep some facts handy to back up your position. You don’t need to jam these into the interview, but soundbites can fall flat when there’s no substance behind them. Look for case studies, statistics, quotations from third parties, or other stories that bolster your message.
Unless you’re talking to a very specific group of people, you’ll want to avoid excessive jargon and technical language. Keep it simple and straightforward.
Confidence is Key
It seems obvious that you need to be confident in an interview, but that’s easier said than done. This is where practicing with a media training coach can help.
Feeling comfortable in front of a camera, knowing where to look, how to sit or stand, and how to pace your speech are essential tools in your media arsenal. A media training coach will also give you pointers on appropriate wardrobe and makeup.
Most interviewers are polite people who want to produce top quality content for their station or publication. However, they may also have some tough and unexpected questions for you.
Don’t get defensive or flustered. Instead, consider how you can steer the interview back towards your core message. Take a moment to think, or ask the interviewer for clarification – can they rephrase the question?
Stay on message and don’t let the interview take a new direction. Knowing your talking points and being prepared will help you remain calm when tough questions arise.
Misleading or incorrect statements can come back to bite you. Any good journalist will check their facts before airing your interview, and if you’ve lied about something, they could make a point of publishing your dishonesty – terrible publicity for you and your organization!
If you don’t know or don’t have an answer, simply say so. Tell the interviewer you’ll look into it and get back to them.
Don’t say “no comment”. Most people associate this phrase with deception and ineptitude. Remember that an interview is not a trial: you don’t necessarily need to answer every question. You can always say something like, “I’m afraid I cannot divulge that information at this time” and then redirect the interview to your talking points if possible.