So what can you do to make the right impression and help ensure that you're quoted in the final article? Use the following five strategies for giving a great interview and getting the media attention your business deserves:
1. Take Time to Prepare for the Interview.
Whether you're meeting the reporter for a cup of coffee or conducting the interview over the phone, you must be prepared. Before the interview begins, write three to five main points that you want to cover on an index card. That way you won't struggle with an answer during the interview, and you won't forget to mention any important topics.
You can also use the points on your card as backup information. Reporters will inevitably ask you at least one question you don't want to or can't answer. In case you are unable to respond, you can say, "That brings up an interesting point..." and then go on to one of your prepared statements. If this doesn't work, offer to find out the answer to the question and get back to the person as soon as possible.
If your interview is over the phone, don't be tempted to read scripted responses from a preprinted sheet. Reporters can tell when your words are read off a page rather than honest, unscripted answers.
2. Be Polite and Easy to Work With.
Magazine reporters are busy people with time-sensitive deadlines to meet and editors to satisfy. So if you don't respond to their calls and messages or if you're late for the scheduled interview, then they won't hesitate to move on and find someone else to quote.
During the interview, be helpful and show that you care about the reporter and his or her job at hand. Ask what you can do to make his or her job easier. Listen to the answer and be an eager, accessible source of information. Also ask the reporter if you are speaking too quickly. Despite available technology, many reporters still take notes by hand. Speak slowly so he or she doesn't miss any of your points.
Everyone likes compliments, so always find something positive about the reporter to build rapport. Maybe you've read some of the reporter's other stories, or maybe you like his or her shirt. Whatever compliments you can give, make them truthful and sincere. And don't be pushy about what you want, because ultimately it is up to the reporter whether or not he or she mentions your book. Ask, "If you are able to, would you please mention my product or service?" The reporter will decide how much room to allow for your business, web address, products and services, price, etc.
3. Give Plenty of Information.
Many business professionals fear giving away too much information to reporters. They think that if they say too much, then no one will need their products or services. But spoiling your years of training and research in a few quotes is impossible. In reality, if you don't give away enough information, you probably won't get quoted at all.
Reporters usually interview at least two or three sources for each article. After a few interviews, if you notice that other experts get several paragraphs while you only get a sentence, or you don't get quoted at all, then you aren't giving reporters enough information. So be forthright, and answer the reporter's question accurately and thoroughly. Don't say, "You'll get the answer when you hire me."
Also, let the reporter lead the conversation. The reporter most likely has an agenda for the story's development already in mind. Don't attempt to take over the conversation or talk about points the reporter does not want to cover, because if you don't give the reporter what he or she wants, the reporter simply won't include you in the final story.
4. Be Accurate.
Keep your responses to the reporter's questions simple. Even if your business is in a very technical or scientific field, avoid uncommon words, industry jargon, and out-of-date phrases. Speak as if you were explaining something to the reporter for the first time. But speak with authority and confidence, and don't say, "I think" or "maybe."
When you're talking to the media, always be prepared to back up your claims because reporters want facts. Instead of saying, "A majority of my clients..." try "Eighty-five percent of my clients..." And be sure to stick to the facts. Don't overload the reporter with unnecessary information that is not directly related to the story.
Realize that in the media world, there's no such thing as "off the record." So always assume that everything you say is on tape and will be put into print. Don't ask the reporter to send you a copy of the story for your approval. While this may seem like a reasonable request, it will only offend a seasoned reporter. But do ask for a copy of the magazine to keep as a souvenir. This will show how pleased you are that the reporter has given you the opportunity to get quoted in the publication.
5. Find Future Stories.
Always view your interview as an opportunity to establish a working relationship with the reporter. You want the reporter to see you as a resource that he or she can use for information now and for stories in the future. Just like you're always looking for ways to get quoted, reporters are always looking for people to quote. So at the end of every interview, always ask what other stories the reporter is covering and what other publications he or she writes for.
Explain how you can be beneficial to the different stories and leads the reporter is investigating. And don't be afraid to mention topics outside your industry. While you may work in one field, you're probably an expert on many areas outside your profession.
Great Interviews in the Future
Media exposure is undoubtedly one of the best ways to boost business. But landing an interview doesn't guarantee you'll get quoted in the reporter's story. When you use these five strategies for giving a great interview, you'll have a better chance of getting quoted and of getting called back to interview for stories in the future.
About the Author
Pam Lontos is owner of PR/PR, a public relations firm that specializes in professional speakers and authors. Having been an author, speaker, and former vice president of Disney's Shamrock Broadcasting, she knows the ropes of getting good publicity and how to use it to really boost your business. Call for a free consultation at
407-299-6128, and sign up for a free publicity tips e-newsletter at www.prpr.net.