Like Marsha Friedman, I too, cringe a little bit when I hear people talk about (and lump) “the media” into one big, bad bundle.
Sometimes it makes the entire industry (television, radio, print, online, advertising, public relations) sound as if we’re all one big oiled machine where everyone walks, talks and acts the same.
When I visited New York City a few years ago, before I moved here, I was out with my cousin walking along Madison Avenue looking at all the tall buildings and smartly dressed folks.
That was the first time I had ever seen a Lexus, hybrid, yellow taxi. Yes, you heard right a LEXUS, HYBRID, YELLOW TAXI! They do exist. But that was also, when I told my cousin, “One day I’m going to work here.”
“What?” I asked.
“You’ll be one of them, then?”
“Working in PR, you mean?”
“Yes, well, all those media people, you can throw a rock, and chances are 9 times out of ten, you’ll hit one of them,” he answered.
Not all communications people are the same and, in the ‘press,’ not all interviews are the same either.
There is big difference between being interviewed on BlogTalk Radio, on television or for print.
As Friedman, a 21-year public relations veteran, says, you’ll discover that with a few key tips, interviews tend to run smoother.
Not only that, but by staying true to them, most of the time, little tricks of the trade will probably ensure a call back for future interviews or citations in future published articles.
Take a look:
- 1) Be Responsive
In TV and radio, interview times are pre-arranged.
However, print and online journalists typically have daily and weekly deadlines.
When they call you, they need you right then!
In many cases, journalists will reach out to several experts on a news item and then choose the one who is the better interview or whoever responded quickest (or a combination of the two).
The more reliably you respond, the more likely they will call on you again.
- 2) Itâ€™s Not About You
Most journalists are not interested in you, but rather the expert commentary you can provide.
The more you use the words â€œIâ€ and â€œmyâ€ the less likely they will use you as a source.
When speaking to a reporter, keep in mind you are speaking to their audience, so keep your remarks centered on what their audience cares about and youâ€™ll be quoted early and often.
- 3) Read Before You Talk
If you get a call from a publication, take 5- minutes to go online and read a few of their stories.
Look for their tone and approach, so your tone and approach will match.
Also look for articles they wrote on your topic, so you can avoid duplicating what someone else said.
Finally, read articles written by the journalist youâ€™ll be speaking with.
There is no better way to prepare for a print or online interview than to read the writings of the reporter interviewing you.
You can discover his or her focus, audience and philosophy.
The reporter can tell if youâ€™ve read his or her articles through your comments and will respect you for having made the effort to prepare for them.
- 4) Donâ€™t Empty Your Notebook
“Beat reporters” â€“ journalists who cover a particular topic or industry â€“ tend to be experts in that field from their time covering it for their respective publications.
They donâ€™t need, nor do they want, your soup-to-nuts take on that topic.
They need only a few quotes and opinions to round out their stories.
Answer direct questions with direct answers, and get to the point quickly.
Thereâ€™s no need to tell the reporter everything you know, emptying your notebook of all your collected knowledge, in order to have a good interview.
Allowing an interview to devolve into you talking about your total philosophy on a particular topic or business will result in your interview landing in the discard pile, and the reporter will likely seek a comment from your competitor instead.
- 5) Be Professional
Reporters donâ€™t call you to talk about the weather, last nightâ€™s TV, your kids, etc.
Youâ€™d be surprised how many timesÂ people think a little friendly chit chat can â€œgrease the wheels.â€
If they engage you, thatâ€™s one thing.
Itâ€™s entirely another if you waste their time with unwanted â€œschmoozing.â€
Most have deadlines to meet and their time is valuable.
Many outlets are working with significantly smaller writing staff than a year ago.
Respect their time and theyâ€™ll respect you.
Thanks to Marsha for her insight!
Friedman is the founder and CEO of EMSI Public Relations and recently wrote a book called, Celebritize Yourself.