The Art of Handling Media Interviews

The media is undoubtedly the most powerful and effective medium of communication. It informs, educates, influences and moulds public opinion. It can make or break an individual or an organization’s reputation. Thus, instead of avoiding the media, you should court the media and make it your best ally at all times, good or bad. In the process of building your own image or corporate image, it is wise to take the opportunities offered by the media to project yourself or your company positively so that you enjoy long term public goodwill and loyalty.

Maximize Your Media Opportunities

The media is available for you and your company to use to convey your message anytime if it is of public interest. Below are some media opportunities available to you.

  • Corporate announcements
  • Appointments of key staff positions
  • Launch and re-launch of products and services
  • Loan signing ceremonies
  • Offer to write an advisory column for example on stocks, insurance, banking, health etc
  • Offer to talk on your area of expertise to relevant publics and invite media coverage
  • Accept to appear as a panelist on Radio and TV Talk Shows
  • Create a special program on TV and Radio that will benefit the public and project you or your company positively
  • Use the You-tube to convey your messages

Accept or Decline a Media Interview?

When approached by the media for an interview, before you decide, ask these questions:

  • Where will theinterview appear, which page, program, section and when?
  • How large is the readership and listenership?
  • What is the main objective of the article or program?
  • Where is the interview to be held?
  • Work with Corporate Affairs Department (if there is one) in preparing for the interview

Preparing for A Media Interview

  • Ask the journalist for list of questions
  • You can offer to provide a list a questions as you know your subject in-depth
  • Discuss with relevant Heads and Corporate Affairs Department (if there is such a department in-house) to ensure your response is appropriate and comprehensive
  • What is your company’s key message and stand
  • Write down the main points to be covered
  • Have statistics at hand for reference
  • Practice your answers with an authoritative person and listen to the feedback

Media Interview Tips - Do’s

  • Be friendly, professional and relaxed
  • Listen carefully to questions and answer them satisfactorily
  • If unclear, ask journalist to clarify his question
  • Give examples, statistics
  • Remember you are there to add value, to give your perspective or your company’s point of view
  • Provide information in a convincing way
  • Be open and honest
  • After the interview, provide a written copy of your answers, relevant company information and photos to help the journalist write a good and accurate story

Media Interview Tips - Dont's

  • Don’t second guess a question
  • Don’t hard sell your company
  • Don’t be evasive
  • Don’t comment on competitors
  • Don’t get side-tracked, time is precious to make your point
  • Never give “off the record” remarks, comments or information
  • Don’t lose your cool however confrontative or provocative the journalist may be

Body Language and Facial Expressions

  • Especially on TV, every move is being watched - every frown, smile, nod and eye movement
  • Don’t fidget in your seat or fidget with your pen
  • Sit up straight, keep attention focused
  • Vary your tone, keep topic interesting
  • Appear relaxed, confident but not arrogant. Convey your key points early in the interview to ensure you do not run out of time later
  • If interrupted, try to come back and finish your point
  • Use your final words to make a strong point
  • Don’t consult notes as far as possible. This will reduce your authoritativeness

Media Handling Training for Key Spokesmen

Successful companies realize the crucial importance of communicating their company story to their valued publics. The more communicative and transparent a company is, the better rapport and goodwill it enjoys with its publics. Company spokespersons thus have the challenging task of presenting corporate information with accuracy and credibility bearing in mind corporate and industry disclosure guidelines.

Handling media interviews is an art and it can be acquired through specialized training with experienced trainers. Media handling training objectives are to equip key spokesmen with practical tools and techniques to help them deal effectively with the media in a variety of situations. Such training also enables them to handle with ease and confidence, one-on-one media interviews, media conferences, Radio, TV, telephone interviews, in situations specific to the company business environment.

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