TV and print reporters interview experts on all kinds of topics, from how to design a home office to the best ways to save for retirement. As an expert in your field, you may be called to participate in a broadcast segment or print article, which can be a great way to build your brand and share a positive message about your company. Here are five tips for ensuring a positive, productive media experience.
When The Media Calls, Answer
If you have the opportunity to be interviewed on TV or in print, drop whatever you’re doing. As an executive, one of your most important roles is to make sure your company gets positive press. Members of the media can easily call one of your competitors, so when they choose to call you, seize the opportunity to get your company name and message out there.
Respond in a timely manner and make yourself available. If you’re cooperative and accessible, it could be the start of a long and mutually beneficial relationship. Give the reporter your cell phone number and tell him he can contact you any time.
Plan What You Want To Say And How You’ll Say It
Have an overall plan of what you want to get across in any media interview. The reporter has her own agenda: She wants to provide her audience with an interesting, informative article. But you also have an agenda: to communicate a positive message about your company. You want to answer the reporter’s questions, but know how to pivot.
Say a reporter is doing a TV segment on dog wellness, with helpful hints about how people can ensure their dog is healthy. She might interview a dog breeder for tips. The breeder can share his expertise on keeping dogs healthy, while also communicating that he has been a successful breeder for 25 years and that he puts a lot of love and effort into producing healthy, happy puppies.
Know What You Know, And What You Don't
As CEO of your company, you should do most of the media interviews. You understand your company’s big picture better than anyone, and you’re the face of the organization. But sometimes there are people within your organization that have more specialized knowledge of a particular subject. It’s important to remember that while you may be an expert on many things, you’re not an expert on everything.
Say your company markets nutritional supplements and vitamins. You may know which of your products are the most highly acclaimed and the biggest sellers, but you may not know the exact science behind every product. So if the interview is about how a particular supplement works, it may be best to tap the scientific expert who works on that product line to do the interview. Identify different people with varying areas of expertise in your organization, and prepare them in advance for speaking to the media.
On a related note, if a reporter asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to, you might think it’s the ultimate embarrassment. But don’t worry: There’s nothing wrong with saying to the reporter:
That’s a good question, and I want to do some research to get you a good answer. Can I get back to you later today?
Do not say:
And don’t guess at an answer. And when you do get back to the reporter, be sure to put the answer in your own words. Don’t, for instance, cut and paste wording from a newspaper article or a website and email it to the reporter. Any questions asked should be answered with your own knowledge – even if you have to do research to acquire that knowledge.
Respect The Reporter
Always treat reporters with respect. Acknowledge the reporter’s name, whether in a TV, telephone or web interview.
- Be polite and positive. Say things like “That’s a good question” and “Thank you for including me.”
- Even if you think a question is ridiculous, don’t make the reporter feel stupid. Don’t say, “Why did you ask me that?” You don’t know how the reporter will be able to take your answers and meld the information into a story.
- Don’t contradict the reporter, especially when you’re on the air. Keep in mind that if you’re negative and abrasive, the story will come across with a negative tone.
And if you talk down to a reporter, she’ll look elsewhere the next time she needs an expert in your field.
Dress The Part
If you’re being interviewed on camera, put some thought into your appearance. Gentlemen, if you’re wearing a suit, button the jacket; it looks more professional. In lieu of a suit, a golf shirt with your company logo is an excellent option. Smile when you talk and don’t slouch.
Of course, many interviews today are being done over Zoom or similar technology. Be sure to dress professionally (at least from the waist up), and pay attention to the lighting and your background. Rather than a disorganized mess, a pleasing, neat backdrop – perhaps with your company logo featured prominently – will help show you and your company in a better light.
If you have questions about dealing with the media, let us know. As a full-service marketing and public relations firm, Marketing Works provides media training along with many other services.