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November 27, 2012

How To “Own” A Media Interview

PR.agency.mediainterviewThere are few things more exciting to PR agency professionals of all levels than to see a client’s comments in print or digital form. A published interview can be a quick, reactive response to a journalist’s inquiry or the culmination of a long and arduous pitch process. But what if your quotes end up on the (metaphorical) cutting room floor? Here’s how to stay in the picture.

Be first. Or at least, not last. Journalists and bloggers work in a very dynamic environment, so being included in a story can come down to returning a reporter’s call promptly. Being early sometimes beats being brilliant.

Be clear. Don’t speak in buzzwords or acronyms, and don’t use technical jargon unless you explain it succinctly. If you’re being recorded for radio or TV, speak in brief sound bites and “headline” your responses by leading with the important information first, then adding details or supporting points.

Be different. If you feel 80 percent of the reporter’s sources will zig, consider a zag, if that’s appropriate.  Carve out what makes you or your message different and deliver your point of view in a bold and confident way. Being contrarian, if your view is genuine, is one of the best ways to be quoted.

Coin a phrase. Catch phrases and analogies, on the other hand, can break through and ensure your inclusion in a feature or news story.  If you can be the first to use a word like “recreativity” or “frankenstorm” then you’ll probably stay in the story. Colorful pop culture references or visual metaphors will also stand out.

Be nerdy. Nate Silver has made data geeks more appealing than ever. Pull out a couple of compelling statistics, a piece of research, or a factoid to underscore your point. Use wisely and sparingly.

Practice. Don’t assume a media chat is like a sales call (too commercial), but don’t be overly casual either. Your objective is to tell a story about your company or brand. Practice honing your messages and examples with anyone who’ll listen. Even if the interview’s over the phone and you can use notes, it’s a good idea to practice out loud.

Reference your own authority. Because your remarks are often subject to editing, it’s a good idea to reference your credentials occasionally and to mention your company at least once during the first three responses.  But don’t overdo it, or you risk being cut.

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