How To Give a Rock Solid Media Interview

February 11 2013

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You’ve tried hard not to be an expert. But no one thinks the way you do. And no one has your knowledge or expertise. So you create an amazing technology to bring back the last unicorn through time travel.

You’re a hero. You’re a leader. You’re responsible for bringing unicorns back into the world. There is no greater honor. So the media comes calling. They want to interview you.

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You can do two things:

1. You can have the horse with the horn do the interview for you (not recommended).

2. You can nail the interview yourself. And be fully in control of your message.

Sure, the unicorn telling the story would be pretty unique. But you’re the only expert on time-traveling unicorns. The world needs your story. So how do you make it easy for the media?  What do they want?

Here are a few tips:

1. Find out the details.

Will the story be featured online or strictly print? Will it be a recorded audio interview? Or a Skyped video chat? Learning how your message will be conveyed is important for how you will tell your story.

An interview that’s pre-recorded can usually be tweaked – as long as the reporter remembers to edit. An interview that’s live? You’ll need to put your time travel skills to work on the fly. Good luck with that.

If you’re doing video, remember that the medium makes everyone flat. What may seem overly-animated to you, comes across just right on video.

2. Prepare (not in your head).

The talking points practiced in your head can come out as gibberish when you open your mouth. Make sure you know what to say and how you want to say it. Preparing also means turning off your cell phone. But you wouldn’t have a cell phone anyway. Because who needs a cell phone when you can time travel?

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3. Focus on 2 – 3 talking points. 

You’re not giving a lecture to a class of notetakers. Reporters often listen to messages in sound bites. Which is why you need to cut your message down to 3 points. Make it easy for them. And have a back-up plan for how you will tie divergences back to the three points.

For example, let’s say the reporter asks, “How did you think up the idea to time travel and bring back unicorns?”

But then you get nervous and start talking about your brother’s girlfriend’s My Little Pony obsession. Ooops. Now the reporter can make your unique story about My Little Pony. And that’s just silly. Because ponies have been around forever.

Don’t give an opportunity to divert your message. If you accidentally go off on a tangent, don’t panic. Bring it back to your main talking point by saying something like “this speaks to the larger issue of horses really needing to fly.”

4. Test your connection.

When I produced for national media we’d avoid booking guests that didn’t have a landline. I know landlines are so 2008 but see what you can do. Often voicing through Skype can sound clearer than a cell phone connection.

Technology can be screwy. Having a back-up plan for your method of communication is always a good idea.

5. Have something to add.

At the end the interviewer will usually ask “Is there anything you’d like to add?” You may be exhausted and you probably just want the interview to be over. But use it as an opportunity to plug your website. Say something like “To learn more, please visit unicorns are here dot com.”

Also don’t forget to say “Thank You.” Politeness goes a long way.

Have you done a media interview? What did you learn from the experience? Please comment below. 

3 comments
Jason Williams
Jason Williams

looking for help on how to design a website and marketing tips. if you could please give me a email back at with any suggestions

David Boullata
David Boullata

Awesome article Jessica! The only thing I'd add is to relax...and have fun with it.I spent over 20 years in broadcasting, mostly radio, and too many times while interviewing people they would suddenly lock up...because they were trying too hard. Stay relaxed and have fun.The interviewer wants to have a good, entertaining, informative interview just as much as you do!

jessica
jessica

Staying relaxed is definitely important...and if that's not possible...well, that's where the vodka comes in handy (i kid, i kid). thanks for your comment, David! :)

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