How to Conduct An Interview With the Media

Becky Boyd's picture

You have agreed to do an interview with a reporter or editor. What do you do now? Below are some guidelines for a successful interview.

You are the expert on your product and service offerings, so don’t be intimidated by an interview with the reporter; instead be authoritative and confident. Typically, the reporter will ask you questions that you will need to answer honestly, clearly, and on point. 

  • Assume every word you say will be quoted, so never say anything negative about your company, a competitor, your vendors, other employees, anyone in the industry, etc.
  • Keep your facts and answers short and to the point, but be conversational. It is okay to share anecdotes and examples, too.
  • Be yourself and be honest.
  • Use a landline phone instead of a cell phone, which often have poor reception.
  • Prepare for your interview by developing 3-4 key points you’d like to communicate during the interview.
  • Read examples of previous stories the reporter has written so you can see his/her style.
  • Know what the publication or media outlet is that you are interviewing with. Never ask, “What publication is this?” in the middle of the conversation. You should know this.
  • Don’t say anything “off the record,” because it will be quoted. Also, never say, “no comment.” Instead you can say, “I prefer not to discuss it,” or, “I’ll get back to you on that tomorrow.” (and make sure you do).
  • Never argue with a reporter, and let me know if they argue with you.
  • Keep on target. Listen carefully, and answer the question the reporter has asked you.
  • Don’t speculate or exaggerate; instead stick to the facts.
  • Avoid buzzwords and abbreviations; instead of ROI use Return-on-Investment. Buzzwords and abbreviations can vary from industry to industry.

Remember to be loose, conversational, and have fun. The media interview is a win-win situation for everybody. You will be able to promote your business and its offerings and the media is always looking for expert sources to add value to their stories.