Spokespeople sometimes find that after giving an interview, they are not portrayed as they want to be when the media piece comes out. They are put in a negative light, the best quotes they gave don’t appear or the focus of the piece doesn’t highlight the company’s accomplishments or achievements.
While there is no foolproof way to ensure you’ll be portrayed the way you want in a media piece, especially if editing is involved, there are a number of things you can do to greatly improve your chances.
1. Understand that the media’s agenda is not to promote your company
Many times when companies get a media opportunity, the automatic assumption is that the story will be about how great the company is, the amazing products it makes and the company’s powerful and fearless leadership team.
The media don’t care about these things. That’s not to say that they won’t mention these elements but it’s not their primary focus. The media’s agenda is to tell the most interesting and compelling story possible, and they are completely within their right to do that. They owe you nothing in terms of telling the elements of your story that interest you the most. The more you can keep that in mind, the more you will be aware of telling your story in the most compelling way…which leads to point number two…
2. Tell a great story
Your job is to tell a good story that the media can use. Everybody wins when you tell a great story – you look good, the outlet has a compelling piece to produce and audiences get to read something interesting, entertaining or informative. While there are many ways to tell a great story, here are a few ideas to get you started:
• What were the challenges or obstacles that you overcame to establish your company or product?
• How does your product uniquely solve a problem or simplify life for your customers?
• What was the inspiration for creating your company or your product?
3. Write down three powerful key messages to deliver…and practice them.
Preparation before any interview is key. Look to make three main points for any interview that you give, and write them down. More than three points will dilute the focus of your comments, and it’s hard to remember more than three messages anyway. Less than three points and you won’t be taking full advantage of the opportunity. Support your comments with facts, figures and third party attribution to support your statements. Reporters love numbers. Use them when you can.
Once you’ve perfected the messages, read them aloud in front of a mirror. Then do it again. You should be able to deliver your messages easily so they flow off your tongue. You don’t need to memorize them word-for-word but you should be able to deliver with conviction.
During phone interviews, have your messages in front of you.
If you’re doing a phone interview, either with a print reporter or on radio, have the messages in front of you. Print the messages in large font (e.g. 14 point) on one page so they are easy to read. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to practice. If you don’t, you will probably sound like…well…like you are reading your messages off the page. Practice the messages at least three times, make sure they roll off your tongue easily, and you will sound natural.
4. Say the name of your company
It’s very easy during an interview to reference your company as “we”, “I”, “our” or your product as “it” instead of your company’s or product’s name. While it might sound a bit weird, it’s important to do use use names instead of pronouns. For example, instead of saying “Our commitment to providing great customer service is reflected in our 24/7 hotline.” it’s better to say “XYZ’s commitment to providing great customer service…” By doing this, the reporter and the audience will more likely remember your company and product, and to google you if they want to know more.