May 13, 2011 Leave a comment
The initial focus of a public relations campaign is to land interviews and media coverage. But simultaneously you want to prepare yourself to handle those interviews. TV is a visual medium. Your success depends as much on how you deliver your information and present yourself, as it does on the content. Print is a different animal altogether. Generally print interviews are handled via the phone. There are times when the interviewer comes to you and the interview is handled in person, but generally in the magazine and newspaper world, a phone interview is the norm. Phone interviews offer you a great opportunity to be totally prepared and tell your story in a comfortable, relaxed environment. You can dress in whatever clothes you like, not worry about your appearance and stand, sit or hit a yoga pose if that works for you.
Because neither the audience nor the interviewer can see you, phone interviews also offer you a great opportunity to prepare. My advice is that you use cheat sheets. Yep, you got it, cheat sheets. I don’t mean you should use someone else’s information, but make sure that you write down all of the facts you want to share and points you want to make. It’s easy to forget things during an interview. By writing out a checklist, you can give yourself reminders and make sure to stay on message You can create a printed sheet with facts that you want to discuss and points you want to make, or write out some flash cards that you can access as needed. One of my clients liked to do her phone interviews standing up. She had a cork board on her wall and would tack up cards with information she wanted to make sure to discuss. She’d tack the cards up in order of importance and walk back and forth from left to right, until she had finished the cards. This also gives you the opportunity to come off sounding like a baby-Einstein. You’ll sound like you have facts, figures and information all on the tip of your tongue.
This doesn’t mean that you want to simply read your information. That makes for a horrible interview. You want to make it sound like a discussion. Answer the questions you’re asked and then tactfully add the information you want to share. If the interviewer takes the conversation into an area you’re not comfortable with, or tries to manipulate you into answering questions that you don’t want to answer, remember you have control over the situation. Don’t be forced into saying something you don’t want to say. Be polite, and stay on course.
If a particular question throws you, or if you don’t want to answer a specific question, deflect it. Acknowledge that it was asked, and then return to an area that you’re comfortable addressing. You see and hear these types of responses every day around election time. An example of an appropriate response would be: “I certainly understand why you’d ask that question, but what’s really important is…,” now return to your agenda.
As I mentioned before, don’t shoehorn in facts; don’t recite a laundry list of information and sacrifice a good interview. We’ve all had teachers who knew their subjects well, but bored the hell out of us. That may work in school, because there’s a captive audience, but you have no such luxury. Learn how to interest as well as inform the audience and both you and the media will be happy.
Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011