If the media were to call you today for an interview,
would you know what to do or say? That question
was posed during a recent conference on small-business
ownership and micro enterprise creation, which was held
here in Paris. I watched the reactions around the room,
and it occurred to me that for most small-business owners,
the only thing more frightening than conducting a follow-up
phone call with a reporter is having that same reporter
actually interview them.
There is only one way to overcome the fear. You have
to simply adopt and apply an old U.S. Army recruitment
slogan, "Be Prepared." Don't get caught without an answer
the next time the media calls. Follow these quick tips
Ask the reporter to describe the subject and
story angle for the interview.
Establish the medium for the interview (i.e.
live or taped television, print, radio, etc.)
Discover when (date and time) and where (by
phone, e-mail or in person) the interview will take
place. Also try to determine if the reporter will
need additional information from you, as well as the
Research the reporter's past articles so that
you'll be comfortable with the story's tone.
Create talking points. These are brief positive
statements about you and your company that you will
want to be included in the story.
Anticipate the types of questions that that
reporter might ask, and prepare truthful answers for
Assume that everything you say to a reporter
- jokingly or otherwise, will be used in the story.
Always be aware of what is being stated, and if an
awkward silence develops, don't feel obligated to
keep talking if you have no more to say on the subject
Avoid speculation or hypothetical situations.
It could lead to being misquoted. You are the expert
so stick to what you know.
Admit when you don't know the answer to a
question. However, make it your top priority to find
the answers and deliver them to the reporter immediately.
It is also fine to take a moment to think before answering
Avoid using technical terms or jargon. You
must be able to explain your ideas simply and concisely.
Take notes and don't be afraid to ask the
reporters questions as well.
Make yourself available by phone or e-mail
in case the reporter has additional questions or wants
to do a final fact check before completing the story.
This will help give clarification to something you've
said or give an opportunity to fix something if you've
Thank the reporter for selecting you for the
you have a media relations question? Ask
Carolyn! Your questions could be featured in an up-coming
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