To draw the media spotlight to your business, you may have invested in press releases, photos, and possibly even professional video for broadcast. Is it really necessary to spend even more money on press interviews? Absolutely.
The releases, photos, and videos are just tools to get you, the face of the company, the opportunity to deliver your story. What you need is a good media trainer who can help you seize that chance and give a great interview.
Working with a media trainer will make you feel more confident during an interview and more capable of steering it in the right direction. With a good media trainer, you will learn to deftly take control of the wheel and drive your interview toward success.
One of the most valuable services a good media trainer offers is message training. The goal is to nail down three key messages that are the essence of your story and that you feel comfortable delivering in your own words. And while the messages need to work for you, they also need to work for media, meaning they should be as short and catchy as possible (think sound bite.)
There are a number of creative, free-association exercises the trainer may use to get the messaging session rolling. You may work in a dozen different directions before it’s clear that there is one key message that keeps surfacing. It may also turn out that the message, in order to stay short enough, should be broken down into two or three messages.
Once you carve out your three messages, the media trainer should teach you to keep a bead on them throughout a media interview. These are the topics you steer toward so that when you blink and the interview is over (sometimes it feels that fast), you have said what you really want to say.
We have all watched talk shows where the host asks a question about apples and the guest’s response is about oranges. Handled the right way, there is nothing jarring about the guest’s polite acknowledgment of the question and then apparent effort to switch a runaway train onto the right track. This skill is called “bridging.” A good media trainer will show you how to bridge to your messages as often as possible during an interview. It’s a skill that needs practice to be sure it doesn’t come off ham-handed and doesn’t give the impression you’re trying to dodge questions.
Once your trainer has helped you develop the messages and has trained you to bridge to the messages, it’s show time. Well, almost. Your media trainer should play reporter and conduct several mock interviews with you. He or she should have you speak on the phone in order to prepare you for a print interview. Other mock interviews should be face to face (to prepare for a broadcast interview). It’s also important for the trainer to tape the mock TV interview so you can watch the tape immediately after and learn how to improve your performance.
For more ways to ensure a great interview, read Top 10 Tips for Giving a Great Interview to the Press.
In her 16 years as a PR professional, Barbara Goldberg has helped clients in health care, alternative energy, and the performing arts tell their stories in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CBS News, ABCNews.com, and many other media outlets.