Master the art of the interview and ensure your messages are heard, every time, with professional media training. You’ve seen the interviews, the ones where you can’t look away as the interviewee stumbles and makes confusing statements.
The person might have forgotten important details like names and places. Another common one is where the interviewee doesn’t listen to the questions and provides confusing answers. All of this damages a company’s reputation and decreases trust in the business.
Years of hard work and investment in PR and marketing can be dented or even destroyed with one bad interview.
What is media training?
Media training might not be top of the list of business owners and entrepreneurs. But it is an essential piece of kit to have. At some point, you may go in front of a camera or microphone to discuss issues and you need to be prepared. PRs working on your behalf can create opportunities for you to speak to journalists and content makers. A TV, radio or podcast interview will bring eyes on you and what you can offer. This is your chance to demonstrate what you provide to the interviewer and their audience.
As you gain more exposure, being media trained should be a priority so that you can communicate efficiently and effectively. We’ve prepared some top tips to help you get started in media training. Nothing can top working with a media training professional though to train potential speakers in how to communicate. Generally, B2B media opportunities have some time between booking the speaker and the actual interview. This gives you plenty of time to prepare for it.
Don’t go into an interview without sufficient prep; here Diane Abbott in 2017 talks to LBC’s Nick Ferrari and demonstrates why you should always ensure you have all the facts to hand.
How media training can help you prep for an interview
Start by understanding what the interview will look like:
- Find out whether the interview will be live or pre-recorded
- Who will interview you
- How much time will you have
- Who is the audience
- What is the topic of discussion
- Will there be more guests
Once you’ve established what the interview will be about and how it will be conducted, it’s time to prep. Different interviews require different approaches. Audiences, topics and the type of interview will massively affect what your spokesperson says.
- Create notes on points you want to get across
- Brainstorm potential tough questions
- Develop sound bites to get your point across quickly
- Practice an interview in the potential setting
- Keep your answers short and punchy (around 15 seconds)
- Listen to the interviewer’s questions and give them the answer they want
- A reporter may ask you the same question several times to get the response they’re looking for
- Be your authentic self
- Smile and try to enjoy yourself
- There is no such thing as “off the record” and the recording will start as soon as you start talking, even before the official recording.
Interview formats will change the delivery
A radio interview is different from TV to a podcast. Some will be short; some people will dip in at different times and some will listen from beginning to end. Scatter sound bites with key points throughout the interview, don’t use them up all at the same time.
Radio and podcasts can be easier, bring a cheat sheet with you! Listeners won’t know that you’ve brought your points with you and you’ll sound knowledgeable with one. Don’t rely on it though, have it there for prompts.
Don’t sell. Whatever platform you use, don’t sell. This isn’t the time or the place for it and listeners/viewers won’t respond well to a salesperson during an interview.
TV requires a little more thought as there is a visual aspect to consider as well. Choose your clothes carefully to appeal to the viewers. Avoid slogans and named brands, anything heavily patterned and stripes. Check out Scott Shellady’s appearance on Fox News, with his outfit that doesn’t work well on screen.
TV interviews have lots of components moving around you as you talk – lights, camera and microphones, floor managers – and these can be distracting.
Focus on the interviewer. Maintain eye contact.
After the interview
Always thank the journalist/interviewer once the interview is finished. Be smart, let them know you’re available again and increase your chance of getting on the screen once more. This happens more often than you realise.
A great interviewee will always be remembered and welcomed back, time and again. Being thoroughly trained in media can take your work to the next level.
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