Congratulations. Your prominence as an author has generated media attention. The press wants to hear about your new book.
What should you tell them? And what is the best way to act during an interview?
Let’s delve into some details designed to steer you toward a flawless performance:
- Stick to your message throughout your interview. Return to it in response to every single question. It is important to remember that the reporters – and, more important, their viewers, readers, and listeners – are hearing it for the first time. Consistency of message matters.
- Use vivid language to ensure you speak in quotable quotes. Don’t make reporters work hard to get your story in print and on the air. Colorful stories, action verbs, comparisons, numbers, extremes, third-party endorsements, references to current events, famous quotes, and survey findings can be your friends.
- Avoid talking in jargon. Plain language is a virtue. Readers may not be familiar with your lingo. That jargon-laced soliloquy that you were so proud of will likely end up on the proverbial cutting room floor.
- Never, ever say “no comment.” You might as well wave a red cape in a bull ring. Tell the reporter why you cannot delve into an issue because, for instance, you do not comment on pending legal cases.
- Emphasize the positive throughout your interview. Steer clear of negative language. Reporters learn to be cagey about how they pose questions. One of the ways they do this is by trying to plant the negative in your mouth. Don’t bite.
- Set time limits in advance of your interview and enforce them. Stay away from overly long requests. If you can’t get your message across in 20 minutes or less, you should not be dealing with the press.
- Come prepared with third-party references. Basically, you want other credible sources to say nice things about you. Book reviews and reader comments represent great options.
- Ignore all the hustle and bustle if you do an in-studio radio or television interview. Keep your focus on delivering your message. You are likely to observe lots of furtiveness and running around that has absolutely nothing to do with you.
- Remain flexible on the day of your interview. Media outlets are constantly besieged by breaking news, so your appointment may be pushed back. Don’t take this personally.
- Take into account that a journalist can characterize your actions and environment as well as your words, so pay attention to your nonverbal performance.
- Dress professionally. I really shouldn’t need to say this, but today’s fashion sense being what it is, it merits a mention.
- Serve up answers that are concise and to the point. Don’t issue responses that are too short or too long. Reporters don’t want the War and Peace They need it in bite-size chunks.
- Refuse to address conjecture or “what if” questions. A media interview is no place for speculation. Don’t give the time of day to the theoretical. Stay grounded in the real world.
One final note: Always, always always debrief your performance immediately after each media opportunity. This pertains to both real-world interviews and those you conduct during practice sessions. Feedback will never be as fresh.
Take a cold-eyed look at the key elements: How successful were you at imparting your message? How effective were your nonverbal tools? What worked for you? What can stand an upgrade?
Solicit feedback far and wide. You never know who will come up with a previously unmined gem. Ask for candor and emphasize that you are interested in improving, regardless of how you performed.
This article is based on Ed’s latest book, Reporters Don’t Hate You: 100+ Amazing Media Relations Strategies.
Ed Barks works on extended engagements with Fortune 1000, Inc. 500, and association clients that want to refine their message and sharpen their executives’ communications skills. He is the author of three books: Reporters Don’t Hate You, A+ Strategies for C-Suite Communications, and The Truth About Public Speaking.
C-suite Blueprint blog: http://bit.ly/CsuiteBlueprint
Amazon Author Page: https://amazon.com/author/edbarks
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