7 PR Tips For Nailing A Media Interview

Your B2B PR strategy is working and the press is interested in knowing more about your expertise. Congrats! Wondering what to do between now and then? Here are a few tips on preparing for a media interview so you can absolutely nail it.

Remember your media training 

If you haven’t already undergone formal media prep, ask your PR team to set up a session when possible. For more on mastering your media training, check out this post. If you can’t fit in a whole session before the upcoming media interview, make sure you have a one sheet-with interview tips/tricks to review prior to meeting with the reporter. 

Study the briefing doc

Our clients agree that briefing docs make media interviews a breeze. What’s a briefing doc? Typically prepared by a PR team, it’s an overview of recommended messaging, the topic at hand, and the reporter leading the interview, including his or her last five stories. This document also acts as an easy access to the interview details–  meeting time, link to the meeting (or phone number), and even a photo of the reporter to help with prep. It should offer key messaging and quotes for consideration during the interview. We like our clients to use their own words, but for most of them, bullet points or suggested phrasing helps keep their thoughts in order and the interview on track.

Practice answering questions out loud

A briefing doc often includes a Q&A section with written-out responses to the questions the PR team anticipates. It’s smart to take the time to fully review and practice answering the questions aloud. Try standing in front of a mirror and reciting key points, as if you were explaining them to a friend or neighbor. It will feel awkward, but it’s very helpful. If the language isn’t comfortable, change it so that it flows naturally. Practicing with the PR-approved language goes a long way in building confidence and ensuring a smooth interview.

Match your  language to your audience

In technology PR, it can be challenging to explain technical issues or products to a general audience. Conversely, if you’re talking to a journalist from a sophisticated trade or tech outlet, you’ll need to communicate at the level of its audience. That’s why advance preparation is critical. For a less savvy audience of readers or viewers, take care to use accessible language and avoid acronyms or jargon unless you can explain it quickly and smoothly.

Prepare examples and analogies

One way to explain a technical product or avoid a long-winded explanation is to use an example. We work with many technology companies who partner with well-known brands, so one way to shortcut a lengthy response is to cite a positive outcome in a customer situation (e.g., “Warby Parker drove a 32% sales increase with our contextual technology.”) But of course, any customer mention must be approved in advance, and that approval might be time-consuming or impossible. Another excellent way to make an impact is to use an analogy. In adtech, for example, we might talk about a “clear box” as an antidote to the convoluted tech some call a “black box,” or we might use a “passport” analogy to explain the opportunity that Web3 offers for brands to market in the metaverse. Common analogies help audiences understand the relevance and impact of a company’s offering.  

Do your research

Even if you know the reporter, take the time to be up-to-date on their recent pieces. Be familiar with recent changes in your industry’s media landscape. Again, a good briefing doc will summarize (and link) the reporter’s most recent, relevant articles and include relevant background for the upcoming interview’s topic. Getting a sense for the journalist’s writing style and knowledge of your industry will help everyone align during the interview.

Beware lengthy tangents

Definitely take a little extra time to connect with the reporter during the call. Feel free to make small talk, compliment them on recent stories, or to ask about recent work. But avoid rambling about topics that haven’t been approved or discussed internally. The last thing you’d want is to give too much away that could jeopardize a future announcement. Or, worse, giving the reporter an opening to flip the sentiment of the upcoming coverage on its head. In short, stay on script without forgetting to be personable and helpful. Often, the PR rep will sit in on the meeting to help keep the conversation on track.

At the end of the day, the most important thing when preparing for an interview is to remember that you’re the expert. Share what you know and have fun doing it!

PR Tips For Staffing A Media Interview

As a PR agency team, we know that media interviews help build connections between a reporter and a client company. Even if the conversation doesn’t result in immediate coverage, showcasing expertise often yields future opportunities. In other words, as long as it’s a productive conversation, we’ve already scored a win. But how to ensure the interview goes well? 

The steps taken by the PR person before, during and after an interview play a large role in its success. And one of the most important parts is properly staffing the interview. Even seasoned PR pros often wonder if they need to be present at the meeting or on the call. If it’s just a casual call about retail trends with an executive for a major retail client, surely there’s no need to be on, right? 

Wrong. A hands-off attitude can work against you. And our clients expect assistance, even if it’s just handling details. But beyond the details, most successful PR people go further. Here are the steps PR reps should take while staffing an interview.

Kick off the conversation

It’s a good idea to join the call early. This way, if there are any problems with links or dial-ins, you can address them quickly. I like to make small talk after the first person joins the call to break the ice and make things comfortable. When both the reporter and spokesperson have both joined, the PR rep should make introductions and even provide a little background. If there’s no need for a preamble, I let the reporter take the lead. In some cases, I will reiterate the goal for the discussion to make sure everything is clear.

Pay attention during the interview

PR agency staff are often busy with  multiple clients, so getting other work out of the way while staffing an interview could seem tempting. Don’t do it. The most successful PR people use interviews as an opportunity to learn and gather new ideas. Even someone fluent in their client or colleague’s work can learn something new. Additionally, these interviews offer a great opening for proactive pitch angles based on insights from the conversation. Listening closely also helps ensure that any mistakes can be corrected quickly. If a spokesperson inadvertently gives a wrong fact or can’t recall a statistic, it can be supplied or amended in real time or shortly thereafter. 

Don’t be afraid to speak up

The vast majority of the interviews we staff go smoothly. However, there are times, whether due to a reporter going off-topic or an unprepared spokesperson, where the interview could stray into areas that don’t make sense. At these moments, a PR person should jump in and steer the conversation back on course. If, for example, a spokesperson releases information prematurely or is groping for examples to illustrate their points, it helps to correct the situation quickly. And if a spokesperson is consistently having trouble during interviews, it’s a sign they need better prep. On the very rare occasion that things go wildly out of control – say, a reporter seems to have parachuted into the wrong interview, or the spokesperson cannot answer relevant questions – it may be best to politely end the call with a promise to reschedule when things are clearer. See these tips for navigating more common interview obstacles. 

Closing out Interviews and follow-ups

As the interview nears the end, thank everyone for making the time. If there are follow-up action items, like more information or materials needed, of course, the PR person will own the coordination of it. After the interview, we like to follow up both with the reporter and spokesperson, thanking them again and in the reporter’s case, getting an idea of his next steps and the likelihood and timing of a story. It’s helpful to be clear with your questions, but not too pushy. Remember, a major goal of the interview is building a long-term relationship so the company and its spokesperson resources are top-of-mind for the reporter’s next big story. 

Give honest and informative feedback

This is arguably the most crucial step of the interview process. Honest feedback for the company spokesperson is helpful on multiple levels. First, it should highlight the spokesperson’s strengths and the positive aspects of his performance, reinforcing his confidence. But unless the interview is flawless, the feedback should include areas for improvement – delivered in a respectful way, of course. This is especially important with new spokespersons, as they might not even realize where they struggle or how a journalist interview should differ from a sales opportunity, for example. Consistent and honest feedback lead to overall improvement, and they make our lives easier. Candor also reminds the spokesperson that we share the same goals and helps build client relationships and better outcomes in the long run.

Staffing an interview can feel routine, stressful, easy and insightful all at the same time. Some interviews will go perfectly while others may spike your anxiety. We can’t have perfect control over an interview, but these simple steps will improve the odds of a successful conversation.

6 PR Tips For Staffing A Media Briefing

In B2B public relations, one of the things we do regularly is arrange media briefings on subjects relevant to our clients’ business. Often these briefings translate directly into coverage. But even if they don’t, these meetings are important. They’re useful for relationship building and keep the dialogue going until the time when a company executive’s quotes or comments can be used for a relevant story. 

PR people are nearly always involved in setting up these briefings, and at our agency, we always staff them as well. But to a less experienced PR person, this role can feel awkward. Am I in the way? A fifth wheel? Is this a waste of time when my client can handle it? The answer to these questions is no. A good PR rep should have a role in nearly any media briefing. Below are a few things we should keep in mind when staffing an interview:

Kick things off

It’s usually up to the PR representative to kick off the call and set the tone for the conversation to follow. At the start of each call or meeting, you will want to introduce the spokesperson and have them explain what their company does and what their role is there. Most journalists will do their own research ahead of an interview, but a verbal summary is a good conversation-starter. It also fulfills the important goal of giving the spokesperson a chance to reinforce their expertise on the topic at hand and to steer the interview to the story we want to share.

Be personable

People run late to meetings. If you’re waiting on a conference line and the journalist is first to join, it’s good to introduce yourself and thank them for taking the time to talk. Any good PR person sets up a brief for their client ahead of an interview, but it can also be an ice-breaker when waiting for the interview to start. That’s a good time to ask about a previous article they’ve written, current events or just how their day is going. Not only do you want your spokesperson to succeed, but creating a friendly relationship with a journalist will pave the way for future pitches.

Let the interview play out, but pay attention

If on the phone or Zoom, the PR person staffing the interview should go on mute once things begin. The journalist wants to speak to the expert or executive because they’re knowledgeable about a specific topic, so don’t crowd them. A good PR rep will listen closely and take notes on key points made during the conversation. Company spokespersons often share useful information or data we might not even know during a journalist discussion that can be applied to future outreach. Especially in tech PR, journalists often request data to back up a claim and the PR staffer will of course need to take care of any follow-up. We particularly like listening to briefings with C-level executives because they typically share information freely, have strong points of view about key topics, and will often say something we haven’t heard before.

Chime in if necessary

Occasionally a PR person will need to step in and make a course-correction. It happens rarely, but sometimes a spokesperson can go for too long on a tangent where they wander away from the question. Or they may divulge information not intended to be public. (This one’s tricky and must be addressed right away.) Conversely, the journalist may stray into areas that have been agreed as off-limits for a particular conversation. If this happens, PR pros shouldn’t be afraid to chime in and get things back on track. If a lack of focus is a frequent problem for a given spokesperson, it’s worth a media training session to heighten their comfort level and preparation for future conversations.

Follow up 

Be sure to follow up with a journalist after the interview. Besides offering thanks, you will want to recap the major points discussed and note any specific requests for data or clarification. You will also want to know how the journalist reacted to the information and whether anything was incomplete or unclear. As PR pros we never want to be overbearing, but if you’re expecting a story to go live quickly and don’t see anything, you will need to follow up again to get a sense of timing.

Offer spokesperson feedback

It’s also important to offer feedback to the executive or expert spokesperson who participated in the interview. We like to be constructive, but candid. It may be that the exec didn’t explain his line of business fully, or that he spoke over the head of a non-expert. Or, maybe he was thorough but could have gotten to the point a little faster. Constructive feedback will strengthen the relationship and help all parties improve even a good performance.

The Presume

It’s no secret that you need to stand out these days when applying for a job. Killer qualifications are often not enough to get your foot in the door. Enter the presume.

The presume brings your resume to life using your own voice, visuals and graphics to highlight your educational and employment experience in a presentation format. Want to give a try? Here are some tips to creating an exciting presume:

Find a program you are comfortable with. Whether it’s PowerPoint, or something more advanced like SlideRocket, make sure you use a program that you know the ins and outs of and can use to truly market yourself in a unique way.

To thine own self be true. Let your presume define you as a person. Colors, images, animations…the options are limitless, but should work to show the hiring manager who you are and how right you are for this position.

Get it out there. If you’ve taken the route of creating a presume over a resume, why not go the extra mile to send it out to hiring companies in a way that will stand out. Tweet it out is a good way to start.

Personalize each presume. When I’m reading resumes of prospective employees, I’m immediately turned off when I know that the job hunter is sending the same resume and cover letter over and over again. Make it personal! Let your presume show that you really want to work for that specific company, not just any old company in the industry. Throw the company logo in the presentation and any images that you can find that show you did your research.

Tell us if you’ve used a presume to land a job interview!

The Hunt For A Job Is On!

With graduation season commencing (pun intended,) tens of thousands of graduates are looking for a job. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported this year that the outlook is positive for college grads. However, everyone knows that doesn’t mean a job will be handed to you.
Aside from sprucing up your resume and doing some extra volunteer work, what are other ways to hone your hunting?

Research, research, research – So you found a perfect job and want to forward your cover letter and resume. Not so fast – look up the company first and do a little sleuthing.  Something as simple as determining precisely where the company is located helps tremendously in tailoring your cover letter (“I look forward to sampling the apple pie your city’s famous for”). Employers like knowing that you went the extra mile to get to know the company beforehand.

Talk amongst yourselves – Informal interviews are a great source for finding out more details about the position or industry in which you are interested.  Do you have friends at similar companies or friends of friends? Or parents of friends? Soak this information up like a sponge! People “in the biz” can give you a great overview of the environment that you can’t learn in an hour long class.

Accept rejections gracefully –No one likes rejection, but it’s bound to happen and not every job will be suitable for you. With each rejection, take time to understand why the job wasn’t for you; learn what mistakes you might have made and move on to the next application.

Networking = net worth! – Let’s say you didn’t get a job you interviewed for. Do not criticize the company and/or interviewer; instead form a professional relationship with them. This position may not have been the one for you, but down the road the company may come calling because you stayed in the their good graces.