So, you’ve hired a PR firm. Hopefully you will begin to foster benefits that come in the form of increased visibility, a boost in name recognition for you or your brand and improving your reputation. PR can do all those things by securing what is called earned media.
A positive news story mentioning your company or receiving a great review of your product from a consumer group would fall into the “earned media” category. The benefit of earned media is that it tends to carry more weight with audiences because of the credibility of an independent source confirming your claims. As you probably know, your reputation is not who you are or who you say you are; it’s who others think you or the perception of via your consumers or your followers.
This type of “earned media“ is defined as publicity generated by efforts outside of advertising, which is considered paid media, and it’s considered by most marketers to be more authentic. Not only does it convert at a higher rate than paid, or owned media, it also typically represents a higher lifetime value and has a lower cost per customer acquisition.
Earned media PR is incredibly useful as long as the person speaking for the company is well-prepared and as communication + PR consultants we often find many of our clients are rookies when it comes to this type of media attention.
Recently LOOK spoke with Shellie Bailey-Shah, former investigative reporter and current editor of KidTripster.com about how to best prepare for a media interview. Here are 4 tips to help you get comfortable for your close-up.
1. Gather the Facts and Do Your Research Preparing for a media interview can be similar to preparing for a new job opportunity - although, you’re already an expert. Reach out to the reporter or media outlet before the interview to clarify the topic of the story, and have a clear understanding of why you’re being interviewed. It’s essential to understand what the reporter is looking for and to anticipate possible questions you may be asked.
"First, anticipate the questions that you will be asked, even the difficult and uncomfortable ones. Think through your response in advance and be ready with supporting evidence."
Be sure that if you are representing your company that you research your own company! Review all recent press releases, events, and service announcements in order to be well-versed on the recent happenings in your industry as well. This allows you to be prepared to not only to comment on your own business, but on general trends in your industry. This brings value to the interviewer.
Gather facts, statistics, and anecdotes which support the topic and make sure nothing is conflicting or unclear. We recommend that you have a print-out of key figures and/or statistics with cited sources that allow you to provide facts if needed.
Be knowledgeable on the type of medium you’re providing an interview for:
Knowing a few key details can help you prepare properly for the interview.
2. Simplify Your Message for Clarity "Communicate your answers in terms that the average person can understand. Don't talk in circles, trying to mask your answer. You come off as being evasive and untrustworthy." We call that spinning!
Spend time creating an outline of your key message, adding two or three supporting points you want to discuss. Keep the outline simple, and memorize highlights in order to remain on-topic and cover your entire intended message. When discussing important information, state the key message first and then provide background. Firmly establish your talking points, and don’t be afraid to repeat them in slightly varying ways.
Use brief, clear sentences to express your point, learning to embrace the silence between questions. Reporters often use this awkward quiet to draw out unintended remarks from the person they are interviewing.
Stay on track. Many individuals make the mistake of saying too much or going off on unrelated tangents which bury the more important information.
Create powerful analogies, use precise statistics, and be prepared to provide the reporter with a strong, usable quote. Quotes provided by experts lend credibility to press stories, and you should assume that everything you say can be published or aired. Some interviewees get themselves into trouble by excessive joking, or off-colored comments prior to, or after the primary interview. (Remember that you could have a hot mic.)
Nothing is “off-the-record” and you should only say as much as you’ve come prepared to discuss.
3. Practice and Review Practice makes perfect. Prepare for your interview by running through your talking points with a colleague. Hold a mock interview where you answer questions in rapid succession and consider recording it with a webcam. This will allow you to review the footage and examine your body language. You want to appear professional and friendly, make eye contact, and consider the inflection, articulation, and speed of your speech.
"Be personable and relatable. I always tell interview subjects that we're simply having a conversation. That's how you should approach it. Unless you're on the hook for some misdeed, reporters aren't out to make you look made. Their objective is to communicate information as clearly as possible."
4. Never ever… "Finally, don't lie. Reporters interview people for a living; seasoned journalists can smell dishonesty from a mile away."
Remember that the media is not an advertising agency where you control the story, and that their intention is usually to inform the public with a fair, balanced story. Be nice and thankful for being recognized enough by your industry to be interviewed.
Successfully handling interview questions may mean a future invitation or follow-up interview.
Thinking of a PR + Media review? Reach out, we at LOOK are here to support.Info@look-solutions.com