Successful media coverage is a defining component of a successful PR plan, and the most straightforward way to get it is a client interview. These opportunities come in all different shapes and sizes, from casual coffee shop background briefings to in-depth phoners. Though every interview may not carry the same clout as “O’Reilly-Obama,” that doesn’t mean your executive or spokesperson can afford to squander an opportunity to present and position themselves in the best possible light. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure that they knock their interviews out of the park.
Prep. Start preparing your spokesperson by highlighting the story’s objective, the reporter’s background and outlet reach and focus. Gather as much information as you can, including what questions will be asked, how your client’s insight will be used and target audience details. This advance legwork will enable you to focus on appropriate messaging points and present them in a way that is relevant to the audience. Remember, interviews can always shift, but in-depth preparation helps maximize the chances of success.
Practice. The time leading up to a media interview is no time to just go through the motions. Suggest a (or multiple) face-to-face meeting in which you can provide constructive criticism and offer role-playing exercises along the way. Consider using video recording and playback to provide your client with a view of their media skills and areas for improvement.
Perfect the message. Once you have the interview details buttoned up, make sure your client is well-versed on the most relevant messages. Work to identify the top three aspects to highlight and flag for repeated mention during the interview; supporting them with facts, headlines and quotable language to establish your client as an expert in their given field.
Plan for the unexpected. Interviews can veer in any direction and thus may not always present the perfect opportunity to incorporate a point. Help your client keep in mind flagging techniques and phrases to bridge naturally to key points even when the opportunity isn’t obvious.
Person-to-person. Offer strategies to incorporate some of the “personal” into an interview to break the ice or establish some common ground. With advance organization and practice, they can relax a bit and inject an anecdote or ask questions without losing sight of the interview goal. After all, an interview is about relationship-building as much as anything.