October 7, 2019
Successful Media Interviews
Media interviews can be minefields, with many in the limelight fretting at the prospect of being misquoted by journalists or undone by difficult questions that seem wholly designed to trip them up.
But interviews needn’t be your enemy. If handled correctly and confidently, they can prove to be one of the greatest tools in your PR arsenal, giving you a perfect opportunity to enhance your professional profile, showcase your credentials and pave the way to future success.
Our very own Julia Kendrick, the award-winning brain behind Kendrick PR and veteran aesthetic industry speaker, sees media training as absolutely integral to success in any industry and has compiled some confidence-building tips to call upon when faced with a press interview.
Do your homework:
Nobody likes not knowing what to expect, so do some research to alleviate some of the stress of the unknown. Ask the interviewer beforehand what they want to talk about and what type of questions they are planning to ask you. This will give you an idea on what to expect and some time to plan your answers ahead of the session. It’s also worth asking the journalist their take on the broader context to get to grips with how your opinion will be framed – as it’s unlikely to be used in isolation. Research the person asking the questions too, it might better clue you in to their style of interviewing and give you a greater understanding of their agenda.
Know your audience:
Once you’ve established the context in which your interview will take place, it’s best to read up on the audience demographic of the publication or broadcaster in question. This will allow you to adapt your responses to the audience and may dictate the types of terminology you use in your answers. Take a moment to think about how this audience is likely to think, what they will care about or need to understand. This will allow you to deliver an interview that appears tailor-made to that particular audience.
Hone your messages:
Interviews aren’t just about answering questions. These press opportunities also provide you with a chance to get YOUR messages out there for all to hear. Decide on the three key messages that you want your audience to know about and be sure to keep these short, relevant and easy to repeat. Studies show that three clear messages repeated several times in the interview hold more sway in interviews, as the information is far more likely to be retained by your intended audience rather than a deluge of 5-10 different messages.
Master the “bridging” technique:
This is a critical skill to master in order to move the interview on from what you’ve been asked over to what you actually want to say. “Bridging phrases” can be utilised when you’ve been posed with a tricky or irrelevant question and you want to get back on-message. Be careful not to dodge the question altogether, as you’ll come across as aloof or evasive. Simply answer the initial question concisely – a yes or no will suffice – before using a “bridging phrase” to allow yourself to re-introduce your key messages, such as:
What’s important to understand here is that…
- The key issue is…
- What we do know is…
- What I can tell you is….
- What my patients tell me is that…
- From my own experience, I can say….
These phrases will also help you to deal with any pitfalls that emerge during an interview. Remain in control of your emotions when countering a negative comment by making use of a “bridging phrase” to move away from the negativity. Bridging is also key when moving on from a topic in which you have no expertise, and should be used in place of cliched phrases such as “no comment”.
It’s easier said than done, but if you’re relaxed during an interview, it shows. Remain confident in yourself and your answers and take your time when responding. An audience will easily pick up on a flustered tone or a “negative” response, so make sure to take deep breaths and maintain a calm approach. Stop talking after you have answered the question, and allow for gaps of silence, as this will then be filled by the journalist’s next question.
Body language makes up 93% of communication, so this is something you really need to focus on regardless of interview format. Body posture, facial expressions and hand movements all factor here, so you will need to sit comfortably, assume a calm and collected demeanour and keep the flailing limbs to a minimum. Hand gestures can be great when emphasising a point, but can be distracting if utilised too often. Standing up during a phone interview could also really boost your confidence.
What not to wear:
Shallow as it sounds, appearance can factor greatly when being interviewed. Complex and fussy patterns can play havoc with TV cameras, and green is definitely best avoided when working against a green screen to ensure you don’t simply fade into the background. Bright colours and a comfortable outfit are the order of the day, as these will make you stand out and improve your confidence. Jewellery and accessories are also distracting no-no’s and remember to pay attention to the length of your skirt or trousers, as you may be seated lower down.
Comfort breeds confidence and there are a number of things that you can do pre-interview to properly establish your comfort zone. Getting to the studio early to get used to your surroundings will calm your nerves. This way, you’ll also be able to help yourself to refreshments, prepare for hair and make-up and ask basic housekeeping questions such as where the toilets are. Bring a change of clothes, too, so you’re covered in case of any last-minute accidents.
Lying, whether intentional or not, is a sure-fire way to leave your reputation in tatters. Journalists will find it hard to trust you, and you could even see yourself blacklisted by the press. If you make a mistake or lie to the camera, correct this quickly and clearly. Audiences favour honesty over untruths.
By mastering these tips, you can use interviews to boost your media profile and earn future success in any industry. Try them out today!