You’ve scored big in the form of a reporter query. They want to interview you in a short phoner and you’re frozen with fear!I love when CEOs can be honest and understand that being interviewed is daunting. So when a reporter calls to set up an interview, here are some tips to be prepared when you get the call!
1. Be forthright – there’s no reason to be cryptic or cagey. If you can’t answer a question, just say so and follow-up with, “I will absolutely get you the answer to that by today.”
2. Beware of the one-upper journalist. For myself, as a journalist, I’ve always been more focused on storytelling when I tackle my stories. What that means is I have to listen and you get to do most of the talking. But what happens if you run across the journalist who spends most of the time talking and interrupting? Take a deep breath. Listen, let them finish and then politely bring the conversation back to the point of the question. If you see the whole conversation is going this way, use this question to try to stave off the reporter’s one-upmanship – “What is the most important thing you want me to answer for your story, as unfortunately I’ve got a pretty full meeting schedule today?”
3. Take cover with the combatitive journalist. If you’re being interviewed, and the journalist is becoming aggressively negative toward your responses, then don’t respond with might. Simply respond to the initial questions patiently and in the same tone at all times.
4. Don’t be shy in disagreeing with what the journalist is saying. If you feel they’ve said or summarized something that is not what you meant, then ask, “Could you repeat that back to me?” or simply say you don’t agree with that summary and make your point clearly again.
5. Speak to the journalist as you would to anyone about your company only keep in mind you’re not trying to sell them your product or service, and they’re trying to find an angle for a story. Don’t be salacious, snarky or overly inauthentically charming. And don’t ever do interviews on a speaker phone. It’s not polite.
Now go and speak up for your company! I know you’ll be great!