How Should I Prepare for an Interview With the Media?
One thing I stress during the media training workshops I do is “Preparation makes perfect, or as close to perfect as you can get.” There’s no question that anyone who prepares properly for media interviews, will do better at them, all other things being equal.
1. Learn All You Can About the Issue
Get as much information into your head as possible. Don't worry about putting it into any order, just get as much info stored in your brain as you can. This is important for two reasons - if you get a question from the media, the chances are better that you’ll have the answer and also you should be able to communicate your answer better, without stumbling if you know what you’re going to say before you say it. Remember you can't use notes in face-to-face interviews, so you have to have all the information in your head.
2. Think About What You'll Be Asked
Most people have a pretty good idea of the questions they'll get from the media. Write the questions in a list, from the question you most expect to get at the top, to the question you least expect at the bottom. Don’t worry about getting a question you don’t expect. Focus on the ones you are pretty confident you’ll get because the questions at the bottom of your list may never come.
3. Develop Your Key Messages
Look at the questions you expect to get and decide what you’ll say in response. Remember, this is your interview so it's important to realize that you can talk about what you want to talk about. Don't be defensive, be aggressive and take control of the interview. The reporter’s questions allow you to go into areas you want to go, so take control of the interview and talk about what you want to talk about.
4. Playing the Matching Game
Match your key messages with the questions you expect to get. You rarely get questions from the media in the order that you expect to get them in, so be prepared to answer questions in a much different order. If you should get a question you're not prepared for, simply say you don't know the answer and then move fluidly into something you do know and are prepared to speak about.
This may be the hardest part of the preparation, but also the most important. Too many people answer questions for the first time in earnest when reporters arrive. You can avoid doing that by getting somebody you know to play the role of a reporter and ask the questions you expect to receive. Use your phone or a tablet to record your responses and then play the video back to see how you did. Once you are done, do the interview again and keep doing it until you're totally comfortable.
If you have a question you can’t find an answer to,