Friday, August 15, 2008

Your media interview - how to be great

Your media interview

So you finally get a interview call from the media. How do you make the right impression?

Follow these tips from PR specialist Pam Lontos

Pam Lontos Column: 15 Tips (Plus a bonus!) to a Great Interview

Besides spreading the word about your speaking services, what's the best thing about landing interviews? The answer is: you can conduct the interview wearing your pajamas! But there's a catch. You can't sound like you're wearing your pajamas. That's right. Even though you're talking on the phone to the reporter and no one can see you, you still have to communicate a professional image. Otherwise, you might get bumped form the story and theydefinitely won't call you back for future stories. So how can you ensure that you make the right impression and, perhaps more importantly, that you're called back for more interviews?

You can use the following fifteen tips for giving great interviews:

1. Allow yourself private time prior to the interview. Use this time to relax and focus. Imagine that you are speaking with the interviewer face to face. Rehearse the points you want to make and remember that you can never be too prepared.

2. Seek a quiet spot for the interview. If you are speaking from home, close yourself off in a room with few distractions. Turn off your computer, TV, or radio, and clear your desk so nothing can take your mind off the conversation.

3. Write your main points before the call begins. Do not read scripted responses from a pre-printed sheet, because reporters can tell when something is being read to them versus when you're giving honest answers. But do prepare a note card with three to five topics you would like to touch upon during the interview. That way you won't struggle with an answer during the interview.

4. Show that you care about the reporter and their story. Be helpful and responsive to their requests. Ask the interviewer what you can do to make his or her job easier. Then really listen to their answer and be an eager, accessible source of information.

5. Stand while giving the interview. Even though you're talking on thephone, act as if you are giving a live presentation and stand tall. Standing will raise your energy level, and you will be more alert than if you were sitting. Interviewers love energy and really pick up on your mood.

6. Smile, and answer honestly and sincerely. People can hear your smile over the phone, and a reporter will feel more comfortable after hearing the joy in your voice. Also, the sound of smiling builds a rapport with interviewers. If they feel they can trust you, they will think of you first for their next interview.

7. Put energy and spunk into your voice. No one wants to listen to amonotonous drone, and the reporters and producers are no different. So put energy into your voice. This could make the difference between a mundane interview and a great conversation.

8. Have backup information handy. Reporters will inevitably ask you one question you don't want to or can't answer (this is another place your notecard comes in handy). In case you are unable to respond, you can say, "That brings up an interesting point." then go on to one of your prepared statements. Or, offer to find out the answer to the questions and get back to them as soon as possible.

9. Be concise. The average answer given is only nine seconds long. If you cannot convey your message in this short amount of time, your answer will not be used. So be careful not to ramble and be sure to stick to the facts. Don't overload the reporter with unnecessary information that is not directly related to the story.

10. Be forthright. Answer the reporter's question accurately and thoroughly, and don't be afraid to give away too much information. Many speakers fear that they might give away too much information and then no one will book them for events. But it's impossible to spoil years of experience and training in a short interview, and the audience will actually want more when you give them a little. So answer the questions and don't say, "You'll find the answer to that when you hire me for a keynote."

11. Use the word "you" often. The word "you" draws the audience in and helpsthem relate to what you're saying. And always give them a reason to pay attention by adding benefit statements to the facts in your presentation.

12. Let the reporter lead the conversation. The reporter most likely has an agenda for the story's development already in mind, so don't attempt to take over the conversation or talk about points the reporter does not want to cover.

13. Incorporate personal experiences into your responses. Audiences love to hear firsthand accounts of experiences relating to the topic. It helps them feel as if they know you personally. But make sure you stay on topic and don't get distracted with your story.

14. Be prepared to back up your claims. Reporters want factual information.So instead of saying, "The majority of people do this." say, "Eighty-five percent of my clients do this." And don't say, "I think" or "maybe." Speak with authority and confidence.

15. Find future stories. After the interview, thank the reporter and ask what other stories they're covering. Even if their stories don't directly pertain to your speaking topic, explain how you can be beneficial to what they are investigating.

16. Interviews in the future. Although interviews usually entail a relatively short phone call, you still need to take your time and prepare for it beforehand. You don't have to shower and shave, but you do need to have energy and excitement in your voice. During the call, you want to put your best foot forward with clear, honest and accurate responses. And when you're finished, don't forget to thank the reporter and offer to help onother stories. When you use these fifteen tips for giving great interviews, you'll communicate a professional, expert image to the reporter and the audience for you and your speaking career.

For additional publicity tips and articles now, visit: Pam Lontos is the president of PR/PR, a public relations firm thatspecializes in professional speakers, authors and experts. An author, speaker and former VP of Disney's Shamrock Broadcasting, Pam knows the ropes of getting you good publicity and how to use it to boost your bookings or book sales. She is also author of the forthcoming book, "I See Your Name Everywhere!" Call for a free consultation: 407-299-6128 or

Reprinted from 'PR/PR Pulse,' a free e-zine featuring tips and techniques for gaining publicity. To subscribe, send an email to with 'Add Me' in the subject line.


George Torok
Marketing Speaker
Marketing Author - Secrets of Power Marketing

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