With the rise of social media and the 24/7 news cycles, there is no doubt that the media landscape has dramatically shifted over the last two decades. In addition to newspapers, magazines, TV and radio — new ways to watch across screens, new mediums, podcasts and the proliferation of social media are now all competing with one another for the attention of readers, listeners and viewers.
In order to break through the noise and competition, it is crucial as a newsmaker that you remain authentic and reduce your messages to their most essential parts during a media interview. Journalists across mediums have limited space and time to tell a story in a way that reaches listeners and viewers. Just because a reporter has asked to interview you doesn’t necessarily mean that you have secured a placement within the story. However, doing a little homework prior to your interview will not only help prepare for your interview, but it will also increase your overall chances of securing coverage in the published article or news segment.
The reality is every media interview carries with it both risk and opportunity. The opportunity is to create positive awareness of your company, individual, product or initiative and further your goals and objectives. The risks include the possibility of misspeaking, a reporter misrepresenting your points or missing a chance to get your points and messages across to the reporter. Again, there is also always a possibility the interview never runs because your points did not resonate with the reporter, were unclear, not compelling enough or an editor at the news outlet decides to just scrap the story all together. It is your job to ensure your story moves the not only the journalist, but the audience that you are ultimately trying to reach.
Before the interview gather the important information below to help you capitalize on the opportunity and avoid any potential risks. Answering these questions will help ensure the interview goes well as well as help lay the foundation for a long-lasting relationship with the journalist, no matter what the topic of your interview may be.
What is the media outlet?
What is the reach of the outlet?
What types of audiences does the outlet reach and what would resonate with them?
Does the media outlet have a particular focus, bias or style?
Who is the reporter?
Has he or she covered this subject before?
Have you reviewed a few recent articles by the reporter?
Do the reporter’s stories indicate or have a particular focus or bias?
What specific topics is the reporter asking you to address?
What is the proposed story is about?
What is the particular angle of the story?
What is the reporter’s deadline?
Is the story a news, feature story, profile or review?
Who else is likely to be interviewed for this story?
What is your role in the story?
When will the story appear?
A seasoned communications professional can also help improve your chances of securing news coverage and best prepare you before an interview, so you are in the strongest position to help secure coverage in the story. He or she will be able to help prepare you on the likely questions the reporter will ask you, educate you on how to artfully deal with difficult subject matters, provide additional insights and background on the reporter and news outlet and help you dig deeper into what journalist’s story angle is or biases may be ahead of time.
Originally posted on Medium.