Knowledge is power (over nerves!).
Knowing what to expect and how to prepare in radio, print or television interviews can be pretty darn helpful so that you don’t feel like you’re walking into a TV studio blindfolded.
This final day of the challenge is also going to touch on a gem of a tip that if you follow will score you multiples pieces of killer coverage, it will ensure you are the go-to expert or product time and time again.
Today’s theme isn’t going to surprise you, it’s preparation (again!), and you’re going to hear me repeat this word a few times because it’s the difference between a great article or news story and a wasted opportunity.
We’re going to talk through what to expect and how to prepare for each medium and the most bluddy important thing of all…saying thank you oh and miximising your exposure.
Now I have carried on like a pork chop about key messages because they’re key to building your confidence. So, before you pitch…get them super clear and then begin working on the art of storytelling. Media interviews are tough on the noggin, they demand clarity of fact PLUS creative storytelling to create sticky and memorable moments.
Now you get the drill now, you’ve gone through all the steps…
· Researched your story angle.
· Draft the pitch.
· Selected relevant media.
· Emailed the selected journalist.
· And finally, had that follow up phone call.
Now, finally after all that hustling you get a ‘YES! we would love to chat with you’.
Queue the mind blanking freeze and nervous sweat.
Sh*t is about to get REAL.
Media interviews are nerve-wracking even for the most experienced pro...
Although you may be a subject matter expert and have extensive knowledge about a particular product or subjects, you may not be skilled at answering questions when under the spotlight. The last thing you want is to be doing is answering a question for the first time on TV. Preparation is key.
When you’re planning out your campaign and angles, starting thinking of questions that you might be asked in an interview and brainstorm your responses.
If you can, pull aside a friend or partner to drill you on the questions so that you practice saying them out aloud. Your mouth and brain will both store the muscle memory of your charming, witty and informative responses, ha!
So you got the call…
Before you say ‘heck yes!’, slow down and take a few breaths. I always aim to delay by an hour or more if possible between finding out about an opportunity and being available to speak. Certainly go back and say yes (immediately) but try to fix a time in your diary that allows you breathing space to read your notes, revisit your messages and ensure you have a clear head.
Interviews as a platform to tell stories
Do not forget that although you are telling stories to eventually sell your product or service, it should not feel that way to the journalist. Generally, you want your story or interview to be educational, informative, funny, meaningful, emotive or even a mix of these. Be creative, but don’t forget to always make your opportunity relevant and interesting so that it is memorable.
So how do we create memorable sticky moments?
Metaphors are fabulous storytelling devices to bring your listener or viewer deep into your story. They’re visual descriptors that help your audience to attach meaning to your ideas…and park that little old story of yours deep in their memory. And that’s what we want. We want to create impact and recall so that our audiences act and connect with us beyond this media moment.
Some thought starters:
Spending too much time in that workplace was worse than swimming in a sea of sharks
In the heat of the moment, she turned to ice and danced to the beat of her own drum
PR is like a juggling act - a complex web of stakeholders
Working with the media is like herding cats
When I’m coaching business owners in PR, there are ‘uh huh’ moments when you can just about hear the penny drop, the cogs start turning and you can already see the lights flashing, camera clicking and the headlines rolling in.
After ‘they’ have confirmed interest in your story
Do your research. Refresh yourself on the publication and its audience to understand their viewpoints, pain points and the reporter's agenda. You should have already done this in your planning for the pitch (but this opportunity may have come about thanks to a snowball of coverage or a reactive inquiry).
I always suggest checking out the reporter’s social media and read at least three of their recent articles.
Note down some of your stalker insights (the doggos name, their underpants colour…) to use as an icebreaker during the interview if it feels appropriate.
Respond quickly. If an interview opportunity comes across your inbox, respond immediately. Journalists are often on hard deadlines and must move quickly to meet them. A speedy response will not only be appreciated but will likely snag you a confirmed interview.
Ask THESE questions
What is the angle? Avoid the Vanity Fair Byron Bay influencers disaster. Ask: What’s the story about! This may seem obvious, but it’s always worth checking what angle the journalist is taking. They may intend to compare you to a competitor or relate your product to other news. Their motive isn’t to make you look great, that’s your job. Figure out exactly what their motive is and what story they’re looking to write. Is it a trends piece or something investigative? Will your competitors be included? Ask them before you get into the interview and mention that it will help you better answer the questions they want to ask.
Will the interview be live or pre-recorded? If you are confident, a live interview provides a better opportunity to get your key message across and control the message as there will be limited edits while a pre-recorded interview may be cut to a short clip (but you have space for any stumbles or slip ups).
Who else will be interviewed? If you know that a competitor, unhappy clinic customer or representative of an opposing environmental advocacy group will be interviewed, you can research their likely comments and prepare a strategic response.
Where will the interview take place? This question is important so you know where to show up (duh!) but also so that you can set up the most strategic or flattering location. Where is the best light, ambiance, sound or backdrop of the business? If journalists visit your office or clinic, consider who else they might meet and what they might see. Think patients, cleanliness, hygiene, aesthetics…leave no stone unturned.
Pro tip: Don’t ask for the journalists’ questions ahead of time. A lot of our clients ask if we can obtain these, but that’s like asking a teacher for the questions that will be on the exam.
What to expect
The visual nature of TV means it’s a super engaging and transformative form of communication. When you're preparing for television opportunities think about the 360 degree experience: what you wear, how to sit and move and where to look.
I always recommend some deep breathing before you step into the studio and again when you sit on the couch or on the news desk before you go to air.
What to wear
Looking and feeling your best is essential for a successful TV interview. You’re more likely to feel prepared and at ease when you’re comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing. If you have the budget, a new outfit and a blow dry can make all the difference to your confidence (and your aesthetic!).
Dress for your profession and the tone of the conversation.
Aim for single colour or large print patterns. Clothing with small busy patterns can often be distracting. We always bring an alternate outfit, just in case! (Hello, nervous coffee spill in the Uber).
Avoid tight clothing that may pull or bunch or straps that slip down – tugging on or adjusting your clothing can come across as nerves.
Think about where your microphone will go and avoid having a necklace that rubs against it.
Choose makeup with matte, shimmer or glitter finish to avoid shine under the lights.
If it’s live to air, often the producer will phone you (so that they can control the timing). You might get the call a few minutes before the interview begins, allowing you to listen for a moment or two and get a feel for the program’s tone. But other producers may wait for the last possible second, meaning you’re on the air within seconds of picking up the phone. Be ready to speak on air as soon as you pick up the phone.
Speak with a smile. Slow down your speech (it is likely you’re speaking a little quicker than usual) and I recommend standing as you speak – it gives you that little more confidence and avoids you sounding flat
Because people tune in and out, it’s okay to be a teeny bit repetitive of your main messages – or themes – try to avoid using the same words, use all those key messages you researched when interviewing your clients in your planning.
The call will likely end with you being hung up on, that’s okay and this is totally normal.
Send a thank you email to wrap up the call and links to anything you mentioned that might help their listeners.
Pre-recorded for radio or audio mediums like podcasts and phone interviews to be used for written editorial have many similarities. Things to consider:
Make sure you're on a landline if the coverage is crapola and use headphones as opposed to speaker phone if you need to go hands-free (for your power poses). And invest in a decent microphone if you're recording podcasts regularly.
If you're on a podcast, don't be afraid to ask questions of the interviewer to make the conversation more natural and engaging.
The phone quite often mutes enthusiasm in the voice slightly so add a little extra energy.
Listen to the question and don’t interrupt in the middle because you know where it is going.
Don’t overly promote your product or service without being invited, if it’s appropriate the host will do this for you.
TIP: Consider using Zoom or Skype to read facial expressions during the interview. Shoot a follow up email afterwards thanking the journalist for the opportunity and re-clarifying if you feel like you missed anything or didn't explain something as well as you would have liked.
Saying thank you
Follow-up after a successful interview with a reporter is critical and easy. A quick, thoughtful “thank you” will go a long way. It will transform your relationship from average to STELLAR and they’ll be a gazillion more times likely to want to work with you again.
In addition to your thank you, share links to research, your imagery etc and offer to be available for future topics in your industry. This gesture will help you stand out from others in your industry. You can even pop a couple of juicy angles into the thank you email for the future.
If you have a product, send one as a thank you. If not, think of something personal and send a handwritten card. This small gesture is good human 101. Just do it. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, just something meaningful.
A strong relationship with just one reporter can be invaluable. Treat each of these relationships like gold, and you can count on coverage for years.
Maximising your coverage
Now the story has run, you can’t stop now. It’s now time to go hell for leather on (self) promotion. You have to lean into the awkward space of pimping your coverage out to a) get the mileage you need for your business out of the opportunity and ensure everyone sees the piece b) as an act of gratitude to the journalist by extending the reach of their article or feature.
Not sure where to begin?
Share your coverage on ALL of your social networks and tag the outlet and the journalist in each of your posts. You can post the pieces multiple times over the coming weeks.
Include the link to the coverage in your email newsletter and add it to your signature.
Put it on your website footer with an “As Seen In” section.
Let the reporter know you’ve been promoting the story and share screenshots of great comments or huge volumes of engagement.
Actively introduce reporters and journalists to people who can help them out .Keep them up-to-date on the latest trends and things that you see happening.
Circle back on timely topics. Once you’ve made initial contact, email them when breaking news in your industry happens with your insights. Keep it to a couple of sentences via email pitch.
Be adaptable. Some opportunities may not be exactly what you specialise in so find someone in your network who could jump into the story instead. Always go above and beyond to make their lives easier.
Well that’s a wrap guys. I hope that you have found the program useful and PUH-LEASE keep me looped in and tag me in ANY coverage that you secure! And if you LOVED this freebie please jump over to my Facebook page and drop me a review, it would mean so so much to me.
Watch out for you free DIY strategy template email that drops tomorrow along with my Hack your own PR program bonus.