Whether you’re scheduling interviews for the CEO of your company or you’re the guy who’s going to be answering all the reporters’ tough questions, it’s essential that you’re adequately prepared for the interview. Now, when we talk about getting prepared for an interview, most people think about what information they need to go over to make sure they have a pre-canned answer for everything that could possibly asked. While that is important, that’s not all there is to proper preparation…or at least, that shouldn’t be all that there is to it.
Interview the Interviewer
Some PR guys, especially newbies, think they have to answer all the reporter’s questions on the spot as soon as they get a phone call. Bad idea. Doing so will surely catch you off guard, and it could end up wrecking the whole thing for your company. Before you answer a thing, you need to be the one asking the questions. That’s right—turn the tables on the reporter and interview him first.
Quick side note: I know I may sound a little “conspiracy theory-ish” here, as if the reporters are always out to get you. Please don’t misunderstand. Most reporters are just trying to do their job and grab a good story. It’s a small percent of the guys who are trying to “get ya” during your interview. Regardless, solid preparation will ensure that you get the best story possible out there about your company. Remember, good press is free advertising.
Anyway, so you know you need to ask questions and gather key information, but what sort of information should that include?
- Know who’s asking the questions. First things first. Make sure you have a grasp on who is going to be asking the questions. Not just their name, but know who they work for and where the article’s going. That can get you a heads up on what the purpose is going to be, as well as who your audience is going to be (which may affect how you answer certain questions during the interview).
- Find out about their angle. While a reporter won’t always give up their motives and perspective, try and find out where they’re coming from and where they’re going with your story. In my side note above, I said most reporters aren’t trying to “get you,” they just want a good story. But trying to figure out what perspective they’re coming from could help you make sure that you don’t become a casualty of a bad spin on your business. Keep in mind that the average reporter isn’t going to give up this information easily. So you need to be soft with your questions, listen perceptively, and ask good follow-ups.
- Know who else they’re talking to. Is your company the only one being interviewed? Or is the reporter talking to anyone else? This information could prove useful as it could give you insight on whether or not you need to go in on the defensive. Is the other person they’re interviewing against what you’re doing? Are they another company doing something similar, causing you to need to standout?
- What can you provide them with? I’ve said it time and time again—reporters are some of the busiest people in the world. That means any little thing you can do to make their life easier will go a long way with them. So ask. Maybe you can write a release for them to use? Maybe you can provide them with some promotional materials from which they can glean information about what you’re doing? The more information you provide them with, the more influence you’re going to have on the story and the more good will you’ll build.
- Know the timeline. This is useful information for a few reasons. One, knowing when the story is coming out will allow you to promote it on all your social media outlets. Also, should the story take a negative slant against you, you can more quickly prepare your response, rather than unknowingly gaining negative press.
What other information could be useful to know before your media interview? Tell us about it in the comments below!
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here: http://www.ereleases.com/prchecklist.html