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How to Shine Like a Pro in Media Interviews


In our media-driven world today, the rules of the game have completely changed. What used
to be trustworthy fact-based news reporting has become an agenda-driven, opinion-based and often dishonest industry. Though primarily because of an election-year, this trend can also be felt across every industry.

Anybody who interacts with the media today—mainstream or otherwise—cannot afford to underestimate the preparation needed to increase their chances of skillfully advancing their mission, message and brand.

So, why are so many mistakes made all the time?

I recently heard a podcast interview with a young political candidate. She’s smart, educated, and poised. She’s worked for important people. She’s covered in the pixie dust of high-profile party endorsements. And yet, she absolutely bombed during the interview.  

The well-known program host clearly had an agenda and knew his guest had an achilles heel. He began with some simple, but trick questions. She answered poorly. Emboldened, he continued his line of questioning. With every response, just she sunk her deeper into the quicksand. I kept waiting for her to recover, but it never happened. What a train wreck.

It was a hit job, to be sure. But, had she been prepared with the right tools, she could have taken control of that interview early on, reframed the conversation and focused on the real issues. Instead, the event was a painful embarrassment and her campaign has failed to gain momentum.

What could she have done differently? Here are just 5 tips that anyone can use:

  1. Research. The candidate’s team should have researched the journalist and the outlet
    to learn about their biases and agendas before her interview. That kind of information is out there, especially with well-known media figures and their shows. When it’s your turn, never go in blind!

  2. Be Aware. Good journalists are intelligent, intuitive and discerning. Ruthless ones are also cunning and unethical. Both possess many tools and techniques to build rapport quickly and win your trust. Careful! What you want and what the media wants are not always the same thing! A media interview is a professional transaction, not coffee with a friend.

  3. Memorize Your 3 Key Messages. You should know these so well, you can skillfully weave them into the interview no matter what questions are asked. But your points must be concise, interesting and relatable. Why should anybody care? What value do you or your brand bring to people’s lives? If you can’t articulate these messages clearly and convincingly, in 60 seconds or less, you don’t know your business and you are not ready for interviews.  

  4. Know The Audience. What kind of audiences follow the media outlet you’ll be interviewing with? Tailor your message accordingly. If you are in opposite ideological camps, choose your words wisely to avoid conflict. If they are your kind of tribe, speak their language. Convey that you understand their values and aspirations. Then tell them how your mission, message or brand can help them enjoy a better future.

  5. Timing. Is your interview for a print outlet, radio, television, or digital media platform? Find out how long the interview is so you can skillfully convey your key messages within the allotted time. No matter what, be concise and deliver your most important points early as interviews always get edited and then repurposed for other platforms.

Media Training offers dozens more valuable lessons, tools and techniques to help you  advance your mission and brand, avoid making costly mistakes and shine like a pro.  Questions? Contact us for a free consultation. Here’s to your success! (https://legacymedialab.com/services/media-training/)

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