This is one of the most important issues that we discuss during our media training courses.
Preparing for a media interview is essential to ensure you come across as confident, knowledgeable, and articulate. It also means that you’ll be ready to put across your key message, back them up with examples, statistics and other proof points and, very importantly, be able to handle any difficult questions the journalist throws at you. Here are some tips, based on what we say during our media training workshops, to help you to prepare for a media interview:
1. Research the journalist and the media outlet.
This will help you to understand the journalist’s style, the media outlet’s audience, and the type of content they usually cover. You’ll know which messages are appropriate and what language to use. This will help you to engage more effectively and create a better impression. If you’re appearing on television, you’ll need to know what clothes to wear. Your PR company or in-house comms team will help you with these considerations.
2. Confirm the subject of the interview.
Ensure that you have a clear understanding of the topic that you will be discussing in the interview. You’ll need to ensure that you and the journalist are on the same page here and know what they’ll be asking you. Again, your PR support will do these negotiations. We work closely with PR companies to help them to prepare their clients for interviews.
3. Define your key messages.
Identify the main points you want to convey during the interview and formulate them into concise, memorable statements. Use natural conversational language but also aim to include some striking phrases and analogies. Your PR team and us can help here. Very importantly, you need to identify and test these phrases before you do an interview rather than bringing them up during the conversation. If you suddenly come up with a phrase or an argument, there is always the danger that it could land you in trouble. As we say in our Media Training courses – you need to do your thinking before the interview, not during it.
Practice responding to potential questions that may arise during the interview. Rehearse your answers out loud. This is a vital part of our Media Training service – we’re often brought in just before somebody goes on to do an interview, especially if it is on a controversial subject or could be risky. It’s one thing to see your notes written down before you go in, but it’s another to get comfortable with the words and phrases you need to express them.
5. Think about what you’re going to wear.
Dress appropriately for the occasion, and ensure you look presentable and professional. You must ensure that what you’re wearing complements and reinforces your message. Jackets work well as they provide a strong, simple silhouette, allowing the camera operator to fix a mic onto your lapel. In our media training courses, we advise our participants to think about jewellery as well – it should be discreet and understated not to distract the audience. You want them to focus on your message, not your accessories.
6. Plan your escape!
Most press interviews last around about five to fifteen minutes unless you’re doing a profile interview or an extensive background briefing. Most importantly, if you’re delivering a short statement to the media following an incident or as part of crisis communications, then it’s imperative, as part of your preparation, to know how you’re going to exit and return to your office or any other safe place.
Media Training UK
‘How do I prepare for a media interview’ is very much the focus of our media training courses. Whether you are a PR company or you’re from the in-house comms, or perhaps you work in the training department of an organisation, as a niche, agile media training company, we can create a media training workshop tailored to meet your exact needs and budget.