Margaret McGann

Media Training: 7 tips to avoid these deadly interview sins

In communications and marketing, crisis communications, interviewing, interviews, media interview, media relations, media training, public relations, spokesperson on September 13, 2010 at 8:11 am

When the media calls it’s an opportunity to communicate with and make a positive impression on potential and current audiences including stakeholders, employees and shareholders.  Sometimes the promise of the interview isn’t realized because the interviewee commits one or more of the seven cringe worthy sins listed below.

These interview sins by media spokespeople or interview subjects can reflect badly on both your and your organization’s reputation (let’s not forget BP’s former CEO Tony Hayward).

It looks simple enough to perform well in an interview but it actually takes training and lots of practice. And it’s not only neophytes needing to rehearse senior managers with previous media training usually need refresher courses to prepare for media interviews.

Here’s what not to do and what to do.

  1. Don’t prepare for the interview just wing it instead: When a media message or call comes in ask what the reporter wants to talk about and when you can call them back? Use that time to prepare your talking points and compose yourself.
  2. Be defensive when asked questions: If the media is calling to talk about your pet project or product remember to show you’re passionate about it but don’t come across as hurt or aggrieved if  the reporter asks you any hard questions.
  3. Don’t stay on message: Remember what you want to say to your audiences in this interview and do it.
  4. Lose control of the interview: When the reporter asks a question off topic answer it briefly then say “that’s a good question but today I want to talk about…”
  5. Become flustered and frustrated: Even if you feel you are being asked the same question again and again or in different ways think of each time as another opportunity to tell your audiences your message.
  6. Be obtuse by speaking in jargon or a monotone: Remember who you want to reach with your message and if they don’t work in your industry speak in plain language.
  7. Answer in monosyllables or say no comment: Never, ever say yes, no or no comment. You’re being interviewed because you’re the expert on the subject show your expertise.

Can you think of any other cringe worthy sins worthy of addition to this list?

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  1. Margaret, thanks for a good reminder of the 7 deadlies. I’d add two more: Never be easily available or accessible. And, never meet the reporter’s deadline with your call back.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Domansky, Margaret McGann. Margaret McGann said: New Blog Post: Media Training: 7 tips to avoid these deadly interview sins @ http://bit.ly/9QFKxy […]

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