Managing Media Interviews

Media interviews are your fifteen minutes of fame, your single chance to get your product/service free publicity and potentially reach out to a larger market. Interviews should run smoothly as long you are prepared in advance.

In today’s digital age your words and actions can and shall be used against you, even before you are done with the interview. Just like in crisis communication all companies must have a structured plan to tackle media interviews.

Take into account this BBC interview by Jeremy Paxman.

What problems can you point out from this interview? How would you have handled yourself if you were in Coca-Cola’s position?

There are a myriad of factors to take into account before sitting down for an interview. Today’s post shall tackle the most important ones.

Choose a Spokesperson for the Interview

Unless the invitation is extended personally to a specific individual e.g. the Founder and CEO you may select an individual or team to attend the interview. The representative must be well versed in the subject at hand in order to appear trustworthy to the audience.

Your representative is your ambassador and their statements reflect directly on the brand’s character and personality. Ideally, if your company is youthful and vibrant the spokesperson should be vibrant and youthful.

Get Your Facts Right

Take a leaf from lawyers who when preparing for a case will analyse evidence in favour of opposing counsel, their possible case construction and then prepare their own case plan in anticipation of any contradicting facts. It is imperative that you examine the facts from your angle, the public or consumers’ angle and the interviewer’s angle.

Familiarise yourself with your product, industrial processes including controversial steps and possible shortcomings of the product. The worst thing that could happen to your brand is appearing inept when questions are put to you regarding your own product.

Stay Calm

Interviewers will constantly try to throw you off balance; it is part of their job. Do not let your body language give you away if you are offended by a question. Take into account that some questions/opinions could be a result of misinformation. Focus on repeating key information and emphasise on the important facts. Stick to the approved brand message and establish ground rules to avoid going off on a tangent.

Be Clear and Concise

When answering questions, stick to your pre-approved communication plan. Give all the necessary details as briefly as possible. Refrain from giving your opinion about the competition as that only serves as free publicity for them. Instead make general comments on gaps in the industry and how your product will meet these gaps.

Armed with these tips you should be able to manage your interviews extremely well. Take into account real time events and the possibility that issues you did not prepare for may arise during the interview, particularly on social media. But do not despair. As long as you are prepared with facts you should be able to handle any of these issues with ease.