Whether you’re a complete novice or well versed in PR and media relations, knowing your business’ key messages and staying in control during an interview is challenging. As a nation, the British are well-known for playing down their positive attributes for fear of being seen as arrogant, but when it comes to interviews, this unassuming attitude can be misconceived as incompetence or uncertainty – not something you’d like repeated in the news!
For example, when being interviewed by a journalist, either for print or online, it is important to avoid relaxing into a conversational style. The journalist isn’t there to make friends; they want a story, and being too conversational means a greater risk of being misquoted. That’s not meant to scare you, or give you the impression that all journalists have an ulterior motive, but it’s important in interviews to not be afraid of stopping yourself once you have answered the question.
Answering in a clear and concise manner is far better than a rambling response. Unfortunately, this is a common mistake that we see. The interviewer asks an unassuming question, but a nervous interviewee continues to talk in an attempt to fill the dreaded ‘awkward silence’. Adopting the practice of answering the question directly puts the pressure back on the interviewer and retains control, ensuring they only have the material you want them to have.
We use a tailored three-stage approach during our training sessions which covers the following topics:
– Developing your key messages
– Identifying the facts that support your key messages. Remember, a journalist will be looking for you to be an expert in your field, so it’s important that you practice the facts alongside your key message
– Anticipating the difficult questions. For this, we use the tried and tested ‘5 Ws and the H’ process: What, Why, How, Where, When and Who – in that order.
Speaking to the media may seem daunting, but with the right training a difficult task can easily be transformed into an opportunity for you to let others know what your business is really about.