Whether you’re an experienced spokesperson or new to media relations, facing journalists can be unnerving but it’s important you can handle TV and press interviews confidently. We’ve put together this guide to dealing with business journalists so you can make the most of all the interviews you face.
Before your interview:
- Research the journalist you’re meeting; are they new/knowledgeable/tough – prepare accordingly. Your PR advisors should be able to give insight on them.
- Make sure you know your numbers. You should be able to discuss the headline figures (particularly for results), good or bad, with the financial media. If there’s anything you can’t answer, be sure to offer to get back to the journalist afterwards.
- Double-check what facts/figures/clients are in the public domain, if you’re not sure, don’t mention them.
- With input from your team, consider what nightmare questions you could be asked and have a suitable response for them.
- Tailor the messages to your audience; potential clients may want to hear a slightly different message to shareholders for example.
- Practice; whether it’s formal media training, run by an external coach, or a dress rehearsal with your team – this can make all the difference to your performance.
- Watch and listen to other spokespeople on TV or radio – did they get across positives and handle the tricky questions? What can you learn from how they coped?
During your interview:
- Avoid too much jargon, the business media will be happy with a lot of industry/financial speak but if you use too much you risk losing the audience (and jargon heavy quotes often don’t make it into articles).
- Don’t be forced to answer a question outside your field of expertise – refer the journalist to someone else who can respond.
- Always avoid talking about your competition – it’s not your job to do PR for them and talking them down tends to reflect badly on you.
- Support your messages with evidence – facts and figures are the difference between a message being believed, or forgotten as a shallow claim.
- Don’t give forecasts or guarantees about future performance – you can’t be expected to predict what will happen.
- Be very careful about going ‘off the record’ – if you don’t want to see it in print, it’s probably best not to say it.
The Bluewood Training Team – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – August 2017