One of the most exciting aspects of public relations is getting booked for media interviews. That interview might be for television, radio, a podcast, YouTube, a website, social media, a newspaper, a blog, or any combination. Once the thrill passes, make sure you do the right things to prepare yourself.
As a media expert and someone who frequently books interviews, here are my six steps to prepare for your media interview:
- First, do your research to determine the type of interview being conducted. Because I do public relations for authors, most of the interviews I book are light and informative. Keep in mind, sometimes journalists are looking for a specific story. Ask in advance what they want to explore. If you have a publicist, she should vet all media requests so you know what type of interview you are walking in to. While most interviews are straightforward, sometimes the journalist has an agenda. You don’t want to step into a trap. Take some time to research the person conducting the interview to see what types they’ve done in the past. Listen to their show. Read their articles. This will also help you feel comfortable on the day of the interview because you’ll feel like you already know them.
- Prepare a list of talking points or potential questions. Even if not asked for this, it is a good idea for several reasons. First, it makes the job of the interviewer and producer easier, and helps ensure a smooth, entertaining interview that provides the information you want to deliver. It will also give you a way to practice your responses and help you to feel more at easy. You don’t want to feel nervous or un-prepared. Additionally, since you’ve made the interviewer’s job easier, hopefully they will invite you back again. You want them to keep you in their contact list, and to tell their media friends about how easy it is to work with you.
- Be organized in advance. In addition to offering the host or producer a list of talking points, send them your bio, company information, and relevant links. This means your website, social media, and if you are an author, your book’s page on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Also, take a few minutes to connect with everyone involved on social media at least a day before the interview. Find the host, the show, and the producer on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This will make it easier to tag them and will help develop a relationship prior to the interview.
- Promote your interview on social media. Invite your friends, family, coworkers, clients, and everyone in your network to listen, especially if the interview is live. Be sure to link to the show or website so people know where and how to watch or listen. If you are on TV or radio, give times and the station, and always remember to include the time zone. If your interview is in a written format, you should post it when you have the link. Be sure to use hashtags to increase visibility. Also, if possible, take photos during the interview and post them on your social media as soon as you can. And don’t forget to tag the hosts and thank them for the interview.
- On the day of the interview, make sure you have the correct address and any arrival instructions. In some cases you might need parking information or special directions. Your name may be placed on a list, so be sure the producer knows about anyone accompanying you in advance. Media outlets are generally very secure; your arrival might take some time since you many have to check in, pass through security, and be escorted to the studio. Plus, something I always like to do, is bring a copy of your book or product sample for the hosts and for the producer. An important note, is if you are working with a producer, it is always good practice to bring them something, too. They work hard and it is nice to show you appreciate them. And keep in mind, producers often work on more than one show, so you want to leave a good impression.
- Following the interview, thank the hosts and the producer. You can send an email, message them on social media, tag them in a public social post, or send them a handwritten note. Media people and journalists are busy and it is nice when they feel appreciated. If you have more topics or other potential guests from your company, establishing a good relationship is key to help in your future PR efforts. Media relations are just that; all about relationships. Nurture your current press opportunities to leverage more down the road.
Interviews and stories about you or your company are one of the biggest joys of public relations. Everything that you do in advance, like sending out press releases, building media relations, telling your own story on your blog or website, and your social media efforts, can all lead to a PR opportunity that could elevate your brand. Make sure that all that hard work pays off by doing spectacular interviews that promote your unique message.