During our last media relations blog, we discussed tips on how to handle phone calls from the media, and today, as a good follow-up, we’re diving into how you (or your company spokesperson) should find your message and stay on point during interviews.
“Tell me about yourself.” Simple as it may seem, open-ended questions can be tough to answer in an interview without getting off-track. The correct response to this question is a brief, relevant and purposeful summation of who you are, what you do and how you do it. Don’t be thrown off if the interviewer pauses for a long minute. You don’t need to fill that empty space. They just want to learn more and are leaving the floor open!
To avoid rambling or over-sharing during interviews, the prep work needs to be done in advance. First things first, you need to establish your core message. If the audience can walk away with only one thing from your interview, what is it that you want them to remember? Interviews are not just about you and the interviewer, they are also a great opportunity for “free exposure” and can present you and your brand in a positive light. Whether you want the interview to focus on exciting, new happenings within your company, announce an upcoming event or even clear up a misconception, be sure to set a clear goal for the interview and accomplish it. And it’s perfectly all right to say this core message more than once during the interview. In fact, it’s encouraged. Just make sure you change up your language each time to avoid sounding redundant. Your core message should also have anywhere from 2-5 supporting points that you should easily be able to sprinkle in throughout the interview.
After determining your core message and its supporting points, create a list of potential questions that the interviewer may ask. Unless you already have a close relationship with the reporter, don’t expect them to know what topics you want to address. Instead, prepare transitions within your answers to touch on the important points you want to make. For example: “ I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know …” or “Before we move on, let me add …” Keep in mind, your answers should be brief and not easily misconstrued.
Most importantly, be honest, and if you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. There’s nothing worse than saying an event starts at 6 p.m. when really it starts at 7 p.m. Better to direct folks to the website for more details or ask them to follow you on social media for updates. Then wrap up your interview with, you guessed it, a reiteration of your core message.
For more tips on honing your interviewing skills and getting to the point, send a concise, to-the-point email to us at The Brandon Agency.
Stay tuned for our next media relations blog post on the golden rules of television interviews and what to wear.