Media training plays a crucial role in any public relations strategy. Our clients find this service to be especially helpful to ease their anxiety when it comes to speaking with journalists. Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing a few of our tips and tricks to help you become more comfortable while giving interviews and interacting with the media.
Today’s Media Relations 101 Topic: Interview Anxiety
For those of us in public relations, it’s not uncommon to exchange emails, phone calls, or tweets with members of the media multiple times every day. As PR pros, we’re comfortable interacting with journalists on a variety of topics and we often develop working friendships with these professionals.
However, for many of our clients the thought of interacting with the media (especially during crisis communications situations) or even just having a conversation with a reporter can feel very intimidating. While most reporters we work with are ethical journalists who are committed to accurately and fairly sharing stories with their audiences, we can understand how interacting with the media can feel nerve wracking. After all, PR plays a significant role in any successful communications strategy and a negative story can not only feel deeply personal but can also impact your business. That’s why media training is so important. Like practicing an instrument, the more you practice doing interviews the better you get. Once you familiarize yourself with the best practices for getting the most out of an interview, the fear melts away and the idea of giving an interview becomes much less threatening.
To help our clients overcome their interview anxiety we recommend the following tips:
Media Interview Tip #1: Maintain perspective
The vast majority of reporters aren’t on a mission to humiliate or trip you up. Their job is to get the facts about a situation and gather all the information they need to write or produce a compelling story. Approach interviews with the mindset that a reporter is simply collecting information rather than viewing your interviewer as someone with a hidden agenda.
Media Interview Tip #2: Come Prepared
This tip might seem like a no-brainer but it’s absolutely essential to quelling interview jitters. Take the time (at least 48 hours in advance of an interview, if possible) to write out the top three key messages you would like to convey during your interview. Read through them out loud until you feel completely familiar with them. You can also create a list of potential questions and practice incorporating your key messages into the responses. If you know your key messages backwards and forwards, you’ll feel much more empowered to tackle any difficult questions.
Media Interview Tip #3: Dress the Part
If you are giving a television interview or will be photographed as part of the interview, take the time to put together a professional ensemble that you feel comfortable in. Feeling at ease in your clothing will eliminate distractions from that angle, allowing you to give your full focus to the interviewer. For television interviews avoid patterns and prints as they can be distorted and distracting on camera. Bright (not neon!) colors generally show up well on camera. Be sure to wear pants or a skirt with a waistband to make it easy to clip on a microphone.
Media Interview Tip #4
Take a Deep Breath and Relax: Keep in mind that you are being interviewed because you are the expert on this topic. You have an entire base of knowledge to draw on during your interview and given your preparation, you are ready to share this knowledge with the journalist. Take a deep breath, compose yourself and get ready to rock your interview!
Still have questions? Perhaps a consult with a Denver PR firm like ours would be a good next step. Contact us and let us know how we can help.