5 Steps to Prepare for a Media Interview

Capture5I spend my days responding to media inquiries and prepping individuals for media interviews. Having done this for more years than I care to admit, I’ve learned a few things. Here are five of my top tips to prepare for an interview:

Know the angle of the article before you agree to the interview. I never give an interview or arrange for someone else to be interviewed unless I know the topic. If it’s related to a crisis, I already know it’s going to be slightly hostile, and I plan accordingly. But even if it’s completely cordial, it’s important to know the focus. And, if possible, ask for the questions in advance.

Collect background information. I always find out about the news outlet, as well as the reporter. This includes looking at recent stories, finding out what makes the reporter tick and finding out how stories are handled by the outlet.

Prepare your answers. Whether the reporter provides questions in advance or not, you should always develop your own list of anticipated questions – both the good and bad – and determine your answers. What are the main points you want to make. When the story runs, what is the one point you want to get across? If you anticipate some tough questions, how can you pivot to the points you want to make?

Provide background on your organization. Also, be willing to provide background on your organization or your subject matter. Don’t assume the reporter has had time to conduct the necessary research. If you provide this information, not only do you make your organization look good, you make the reporter look good.

Conduct a dry run. Interviews are not easy. Schedule time to have someone play the role of reporter and ask you questions. Then practice giving your answers. You don’t want to over rehearse, but you do want to be comfortable answering the questions.

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5 Steps to Networking Success

dscf2419My colleagues and I were deciding what time to head out to a luncheon workshop that includes networking. I opted to arrive early, and it had nothing to do with punctuality or finding a parking space.

As an introvert, it’s easier for me to be among the first to arrive at a networking event. That way, I can spot others arriving and easily approach them. We connect and have a conversation. It’s much more challenging for me to wade into a large group and network.

Here are a few tips for successful networking:

As I shared above, arrive early.

Stand out. Have your elevator speech ready, be professional, and be memorable. For years, when people asked what I did, I said that my job was like being an air traffic controller. I then explained what I meant. In my current job, I like to wear a lapel pin of our mascot, which always leads to conversation.

Listen more than you talk. If you ask open-ended questions, and listen to the answers, you will learn about the person, and they are more likely to remember you because you listened. Too often, we ask a question, and instead of listening, we are thinking about our next question to ask or what we are going to share with the person.

Aim for quality, not quantity. When I first started my career, I was all about collecting business cards. Those cards do me no good, though, if I can’t remember whose card it is or in what context I met the person. If I’m at a lunch event, I may only leave with one card. At a conference, I may leave with seven or eight. I make it a point to note something I learned about the person on the back of their card.

Follow-up. One of the reasons, I write notes on a person’s business card is because I like to follow up with the person within a month of our meeting. I try to share information that I think may be of value to them, further cementing our networking opportunity.