HOW TO TALK TO THE MEDIA
by Hazel Scott, Director of Kai Communications
It is really important to get it right when talking to the media. Saying the wrong thing, forgetting to say what you wanted to say or making a gross mistake could cost you and your business. To follow are some tips to help get you media savvy!
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
• Always confirm what subject matter you will specifically be talking about and ensure you have brushed up on your knowledge on this
• Agree with the producer or journalist the time and the place e.g. studio, telephone interview (landline always preferable to
mobile) and in the case of a telephone interview who is calling who? Is it live or recorded? Ask if anyone else is taking part.
Preparation is key.
• Find out about the publication/ media outlet i.e. who is their audience, what will they be interested in etc. as it will give you
a clue to what questions you will be asked.
• In the same way, offer them printed background information to give them an overview prior to the interview.
• Always be ready for your interview 10 minutes before it is due to happen. Make sure you are in a quiet place and your mobile is
turned off. Remember it is highly unlikely the journalist is going to try and catch you out, it is more of an informative chat.
• Never be forced to do an interview NOW. Agree to call back shortly when you are ready.
• Always return a journalist’s call when you say you will.
• Grasp the opportunity to have your say. Think of three things you would like to mention in the interview and proactively ensure
you bring them up.
• Adopt the correct mental attitude of thinking positive and then you will sound positive.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
• Be positive, animated and interested. The interview is an opportunity.
• Stay calm. It’s your interview; you can set the pace.
• Use anecdotes to bring the story to life.
• Speak in simple terms – avoid company jargon and acronyms.
• Make sure you understand the questions – do not be afraid to clarify or reiterate.
• Stay away from issues in which you’re not an expert.
• Correct misinformation as soon as you hear it.
• Tell the interviewer you will get back to them if you don’t know something in a non-recorded interview.
• Use the company name as many times as possible (without over-doing it of course).
• Dwell on negatives or mistakes.
• Stray away from the agreed upon subject area.
• Give personal opinions on company issues, people or policies.
• Criticise other companies or their products or services.
• Say anything you don’t want to be transmitted/printed.
• Lie or exaggerate. You will always be caught out.
• At the end of an interview always sound friendly and tell interviewer if they need anything further do not hesitate to come back
• Ask when you can expect coverage to appear after the interview.
• Never complain about minor mistakes in print. You will pointlessly burn bridges.