Getting an opportunity to do an interview with a media outlet can be a nerve-wracking experience! But talking to the media should be fun and exciting, as long as you remember the do’s and don’ts.
Below are a few tips to help you alleviate some spotlight stress, whether it’s in front of the camera, on a podcast, or a good old-fashioned one-on-one coffee meetup with a recorder.
DO be prepared
- It may be the journalist assignment but it’s your time to shine!
- Figure out what you would and would not want to say to a reporter.
- Imaging is priceless: make sure you look presentable. That means ladies your face is beat to the makeup gods and guys, your beards and hair are trimmed. If you’re representing a company, make sure to adhere to that company’s dress code and wear the appropriate company attire. In this social media age, it’s so easy to be turned into a meme or hashtag for the wrong reasons. Don’t be one. We want to trend for the RIGHT reasons, not the wrong ones.
- It’s your interview, not the reporters. This is your time to shine. Don’t blow it.
- To do your homework on what you are about to talk about.
- To keep your responses short and simple. Reporters, especially TV ones, look for good soundbites, not paragraphs.
- It’s OK to say NO. Ask the reporter what their story is about before accepting the interview request. If you are uncomfortable speaking about a specific subject, you can politely decline or direct that reporter to the appropriate source. Most companies have communications and public relations department that handles media inquiries. If you are an employee, who is approached by a reporter for a story, direct them to your company’s media department.
- In advance what you do and do not want to say to a reporter.
- The main points you want to get across.
- What you do NOT want to share.
- If you are talking off the record. Announce that in advance before speaking. *Ethical* journalists should honor it.
- If you are talking on the record, this means that anything you say that reporter can directly attribute it to you by name, title, and organization. If you are working under a company, make sure to obtain appropriate authorization from management before proceeding. The media is not responsible if you get fired.
- Contact information on how the reporter can reach you if they have further information. Reporters are pitched and assigned dozens of different stories each day. Never assign they’re always looking for YOU or that you are the top priority. With that said, ask that reporter, if they will like to be added to your email subscription or receive updates from your newsletter to stay on top of what’s going on and help them stay abreast of the latest news, related to your brand or business.
Below are a few DON’Ts:
- Sensational comments, unless you’re trying to go viral on the next celebrity tabloid or find yourself on The Shade Room. If you think it’s inappropriate it probably is. Anything juicy WILL make it into the story and can overshadow your original view or angle. Also, be careful what you say after the interview. Comments and actions you take can make their way into the story. Again, as stated above- We want to trend for the RIGHT reasons, not the wrong ones.
- Assumptions a reporter knows everything about you/your brand, company. Talk about your background as needed, if asked, but don’t overload them. If a reporter wants to know something extra, they’ll ask. Simple.
- Your time responding to interview requests. Reporters work on tight deadlines. Respect their time. Ask them what is their deadline for their story so you can get back to them in a timely fashion.
- I DON’T KNOW or UMMM. If you don’t know the answer to a question or need time to collect information or your thoughts, tell the reporter you will get back to him or her later with an answer or direct them to someone who can properly answer that question.
- You’re going to see the story before everyone else. Or have an opportunity to add your twerks or suggestions to the story. Because 10 times out of 10, you will not. If an addition is made, it would be to make a correction such as factual or grammatical, not because you do not like what was said. This is another reason to make stress the points that you want to make in the interview and that your quotes are short, informative and simple.
A working journalist, entrepreneur and founder of RoyalTee Enterprises. Born and raised in Tampa, Fla. The vision of RoyalTee was inspired in 2015 by Alexia’s ambitions to return to her passion for creative writing and publishing and create a platform to showcase the excellence of minority women across the country through professional, personal and social ventures.