Being interviewed by a journalist can be unnerving, even for the most talkative among us. As the subject of an interview, you will feel that the onus is on you to fill the silence with useful information.
But with enough preparation, says Dean DiSpalatro, senior writer with Ext. Marketing Inc. in Toronto, a media interview can present an opportunity for you to demonstrate your expertise while offering useful information to the public. The better prepared you are, the stronger the impression you will make as a knowledgeable and valuable source.
DiSpalatro offers these suggestions to help you navigate a press interview:
> Plan ahead
Find out as much as you can about what the reporter is looking for before the interview. Anticipate what will be asked of you, and draft a rough outline of points you want to cover.
Depending on the subject, you might need to back up the information you provide with hard numbers or cite specific studies. You should avoid reciting “vague, sweeping statements,” DiSpalatro says.
“Take 20 minutes or half an hour, and think carefully about the kind of questions you’re going to be asked,” he says.
> Illustrate your point with examples
Reporters want to give their readers an understanding of sometimes complex or difficult issues. As the interviewee, you’re in the position to provide insight and clarity. One important tool in helping readers understand new concepts is to provide examples. DiSpalatro says.
For instance, if you’re discussing a financial planning issue, describe a hypothetical client situation and how that client could reach their goals through a planning strategy.
> Make yourself available
Be sure to block out enough time in your schedule, so you won’t feel rushed. Also, avoid slotting the interview in the midst of a day in which you will be travelling all over town, says DiSpalatro — unless the interview was a last-minute request for a comment. Giving anything less than your undivided attention can sour the tone of the interview.
“Reporters know you have more important priorities than their article,” DiSpalatro says. “But by showing that you’re taking the interview seriously, you create goodwill, and that leads to future interview requests.”
Offer to be contacted for follow-up questions and clarifications after the interview.
> Check with compliance
It’s not always possible — or necessary — to have a compliance officer on the line during the interview, DiSpalatro says, but you should be aware of compliance parameters..
“Try to keep compliance in mind,” he says. “Balance it with the need to provide readers with the detail they’re expecting.”
This is the second part in a two-part series on doing media interviews.
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