After having completed a taped radio and television interview, I am now preparing for an upcoming live cable television interview and I wanted to share some media tips that I was recently given by NYC based media expert Jeff Bloch. Getting media exposure is a key step towards building your brand, establishing your expert credibility and sharing with the world what you do for a living and how they can find you. Who doesn’t want some of that?
1. PREPARE-Before you talk to a reporter, know your story. Focus your broad knowledge of your subject into three key messages that tell a complete story. Think about what you would like the headline to be, and what you want the reporter – and your audience – to remember. Often, the messages state a problem/situation, followed by a solution/next step, and finally offer the credibility of your organization to provide that solution or input.
2. THINK NEWS- Messages should offer some information that is new, that goes beyond what others have said, or that identifies a new issue or trend. Don’t sensationalize, but think about what can make your story more interesting, more compelling.
3. SUPPORT YOUR STORY WITH SPECIFICS-Facts/figures-don’t worry about citing particularly daunting numbers, rather just provide some context with numbers that will allow the audience to better appreciate the scope of your work, examples, anecdotes, quotable language-in other words vivid words and well-turned phrases that are catchy but not too clever and will help to crystallize your story.
4. CONSIDER THE AUDIENCE-Whom are you trying to reach? Consumers, potential business customers, decision-makers? Make sure your messages and your supporting information are tailored to your audience. Avoid jargon – use language they will understand. When possible, put a face on it, meaning, give an example of a person or situation that your audience can relate to and appreciate.
5. DEVELOP-Develop a list of questions that are likely to be asked. Be prepared for obvious negative questions, but also be ready to answer the supposedly “easy” ones, such as “Tell me about this study / your company / your perspective on this issue.” Keep up with the news in the days before your interview and be ready to deal with related events or developments.
6. DELIVER-Once the interview begins-take control. Don’t wait for the reporter to guide you through your story. Begin at the beginning, deliver your messages early and often, explain, re-contextualize, repeat yourself as necessary. If you are reacting to news, hold your ground. If you are promoting a story, don’t make the reporter “pull teeth” to get it.
7. USE FLAGS-Phrases such as “What’s most important…” “The key thing is…” “There are three critical factors…” signal to the reporter and the audience that you’re about to say something vital.
8. BUILD BRIDGES-Don’t just answer the question. Find the ways to go beyond the answer to your message. Be more expansive, offer additional information, return to an earlier point. Make sure you spend more time on your story than on other, less important, topics.
9. TURN NEGATIVES INTO POSITIVES-Don’t be defensive and don’t over-explain your response to the negative. Instead, deal with the negative – without repeating any negative language – and then bridge to a message. Remember to end on a positive.