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The secrets to outstanding media interviews

So you’ve hit the publicity holy grail and secured yourself an interview with your dream media outlet. Great! Now to plan what to say so you become the expert the media turns to first every time.

Have you ever wondered why the same people are interviewed whenever a topic is discussed in the media? It’s because they are good in interview situations. A journalist’s job is to tell a story objectively in an informative and/or entertaining way.

Here are some tips to make sure you’re the one helping the journalist tell the story, not your competitors:

  • If they want to interview you straight away, it is OK to ask if you can call them back and give yourself some time to prepare. But make sure you do call back within a few minutes in case they move on to someone else.
  • Ask the journalist why they want to interview you, if they haven’t already said, as this will help you plan your responses.
  • Find out how much they know about the topic so you can pitch your answers at the right level.
  • Ask who else they will interview. This will give you parameters on what you can say ensure your answers are relevant and succinct.
  • Research the media outlet so you know the audience and how they present stories. Think about how you can fit into that mould.
  • Prepare notes on what you want to say, highlighting three to four key points. Not only is it easier to remember three to four things, but it also means your responses will be stronger and less likely to get lost within other information.
  • If you’re using statistics, make sure they are up to date and give the journalist the source so they can check the facts.
  • Keep the interview in a conversational tone with clear responses and be willing to clarify anything you think the journalist hasn’t understood.
  • Use examples and anecdotes to help tell your story as the journalist and their audience will connect better with you.
  • Don’t use jargon and acronyms; keep your language simple and concise.
  • Be willing to come back to the journalist if you’re unsure on anything. It is better to give the right answer after research, than give the wrong one for fear of not knowing something.

Keep in mind the journalist has asked for an interview because you are the expert on that topic and know more than they do.

Enjoy the experience, share the results with your networks, then wait for your next slice of media stardom.

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Johanna Baker-Dowdell

Johanna Baker-Dowdell

Johanna has more than 17 years experience as a journalist and public relations consultant. Her experience includes writing for newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites in Australia and the United Kingdom on a number of topics including business, news, parenting and IT. Johanna draws on her business knowledge - as an entrepreneur running two businesses and through her past work experience - to advise clients on the best methods to gain publicity and tell their story effectively.

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