How to survive a media interview – why do it in the first place?

Whereas this topic isn’t actually about writing words, it certainly is about choosing  words. And it involves choosing your words very carefully. Media interviews with hard-bitten or even softly-bitten journalists can be, er, challenging, as they say. So why do it in the first place?

How to survive a media interview - why do it in the first place?

A good interviewer with a plasticized smile and sharp verbal teeth can be terrifying.

Doing media interviews has become an art form in itself. Radio, TV (both broadcast and internet) and print or print-related media interviewers are trained and very experienced at asking questions, often awkward ones, and practised interviewees are just as good at responding in a way that makes them or their companies look good no matter how much pressure the interviewer puts on them.

Think about politicians. Have you noticed how well they handle – or deflect – a bitchy journalists probing questions? They have the knack to turn the most barbed of interview questions around and come up with an answer that suits their purposes.

For the inexperienced interviewee, a good interviewer with a plasticized smile and sharp verbal teeth can be terrifying. However with a little knowledge on how to handle such interviews, you can come through even the harshest of experiences unscathed.

Why taking a course in media interview techniques pays dividends

In nearly every major city in industrialized nations you can take a course on media interviews. This training resource has been big business for quite a few years now, and for good reason, given how more and more business owners and company executives need to put themselves in front of cameras and/or microphones at some time in their business lives.

And media interview training (I’m not plugging anything here because I don’t offer it, but can recommend excellent trainers who do) isn’t just for the major corporate “captains of industry.” Even small business owners and managers can find themselves asked to comment on local radio programs or small internet radio stations. And with the fragmented proliferation of more and more small TV stations, on-camera interviews are very popular, if only perhaps because they are “cheap TV!”

So investing in some media training is a first-class investment for any business, especially – but not exclusively – if it operates in the Business To Consumer (B2C) market. And it shouldn’t be restricted only to the boss: at least one, preferably a couple more, senior staffers in every business should be trained in media interview techniques to cover every eventuality.

No selling – but a media interview has good PR value

For someone in the company to go on air in a non-specific capacity … e.g. the CEO of Bloggs Bearings Ltd answering questions on her hobby of growing orchids, on a radio phone-in show, and casually mentioning the company’s name en passant … can help gain recognition of Bloggs Bearings as part of an on-going PR process.

But of course, if the CEO of Bloggs Bearings knows her orchids, she will realize instinctively that more than the odd one or maximum two mentions of the company name in her orchid-related comments, will ruin the whole effect.

As you can imagine, discretion is vital. However the potential spin-off of even such a random link as this can work wonders in PR terms for retention  of customer loyalty retention and even retention of staff and supplier loyalty. People like doing business with, and working for, real people.

Key reasons for going through the pain of a media interview

  • Showing yourself to be a valuable contributor to the local / national economy
  • Defending your stance if you have been openly criticized
  • Announcing progress made by your business that will make a significant difference to your community
  • Creating interest in generic terms when your business has launched a new product or service

So … are media interviews are worth doing?

Yes, but you need to understand how they work, and why they can be so adversarial.

If you are likely to find yourself in the firing line, take a media interview training course. If you don’t want to do that, or don’t want to spend the money on it, stick around.

In the coming days I’ll be sharing some helpful advice on how to shine in media interviews, right here on HTWB. (And it’s free.)

For now though, what experience have you have with giving media interviews? If so, what advice would you want to share with other readers here?

Check out all the articles in this series about how to handle media interviews…

How to survive a media interview – watch out for over-confidence

How to survive a media interview – down the line, radio

How to survive a media interview – how to handle yourself

How to survive a media interview – familiarize yourself

How to survive a media interview – why do it in the first place?

How to survive a media interview – down the line, TV

photo credit: 2010 World Wheelchair Basketball Championships via photopin cc




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