Through effective strategies for interacting with your local media, you can position your organization as the go-to authority and expert for information and resources related to your field. Interviews with the media can be nerve-racking, but they donâ€™t need to be, especially if you remember the three Cs â€“ credibility, control and consistency. Letâ€™s take a closer look at each of these points to help make your next media interview a success.
You and the other leaders in your organization are experts in your respective fields. The following are a few recommendations for demonstrating your credibility during an interview with the media.
• Prepare â€“ When a reporter contacts you and asks to speak with you for a story, find out as much information about the direction of the story and the information he or she is looking for prior to the interview. Then, write out your thoughts ahead of time, organize them into notes and speak from and refer to the notes during the interview.
• Use supporting data â€“ Use statistics and facts to support your message.
• Subject matter expert â€“ Remember, you know more about your area of expertise than the reporter. Consider the interview an opportunity to educate the reporter and the community as a whole about the issue, enabling you to help frame the story.
One common mistake in an interview is to become overly fixated by the questions. As a result, the interviewee likely becomes a passive respondent rather than a confident and credible spokesperson for your organization.
Your role in an interview is to effectively communicate the key messages of your organization. While you donâ€™t have to answer every question specifically, you need to respond. Though that may sound like a contradiction, it isnâ€™t. By this, we mean that you should listen for the bigger issue in the question and respond appropriately. Here are a few responses to help you maintain control during an interview and remain on point:
• â€śLet me put this into perspective â€¦â€ť
• â€śThe most important point to remember is â€¦â€ť
• â€śLet me clarify â€¦â€ť
• â€śNot necessarily â€¦â€ť
Although you may have heard the phrase â€śoff the record,â€ť there is no such thing. Although a reporter may say something along the lines of, â€śIâ€™m just asking this to help me understand the issue.â€ť Consider anything you say to a reporter â€śfair gameâ€ť to appear in the story.
During the interview, remain focused on your key messages. Reporters may ask the same question with slight nuances to elicit a different response. Stick to your messages. Another way to reinforce your messages is to use anecdotes or draw conclusions, especially if the topic of the interview could be confusing to anyone outside of your organization.
Consider media interviews valuable opportunities to tell your organizationâ€™s story. Be yourself and focus on the three Cs â€“ credibility, control and consistency. Reporters will contact you as a source for other stories if they find you to be knowledgeable, accessible and â€“ most importantly â€“ quotable.