5 Steps for Facilitating a Successful Media Interview

By Lindsay Hull, Director of Media

You secured a media interview for your client. Yay! Now what? When you are asked to facilitate an interview, it is important to remember that the goal is to position your client’s organization in the best possible light – whether it’s for a product launch or a profile piece on an executive. If you (or your client) are not prepared, interviews can be nerve-wracking and sometimes frustrating. To facilitate a successful media interview, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Here are five tips for making the most of your next media interview.

1. Prepare Your Client

Preparing for a media interview is all about managing expectations and setting the stage for success. To do this, PR people need to consider the message they want to communicate and the audience they are trying to reach.

Once that framework is in place, the PR pro should develop a briefing document for the client that includes potential questions and key talking points, along with other important information like details about the reporter, past articles by the reporter, the logistics for the call, and so on. These details will help the client understand the goal of the interview, stay on message, and position the interview for the publication’s audience. Coordinating a prep call with your client to rehearse their responses is also a helpful tactic, particularly for high-profile interviews. For some interviews, it’s also important to practice how the client will react if confronted with tough questions or unexpected follow-up questions. By simulating different situations ahead of time, both you and your client will feel more confident when it comes time for the real interview.

2. Make Introductions

Once you’re on the line with the reporter and your client, it’s time for introductions. As the PR pro, it is your job to set the stage for a productive discussion and help everyone feel at ease. Be prepared with the client’s name and title and have a short synopsis of what they’ll be talking about during the interview (it’s a good reminder for both the client and reporter). If there are any topics that are off-limits, or if the discussion is under embargo, now is the time to remind the reporter.

Following introductions, it’s also important to communicate what your role will be during the interview: to support your client during the interview with additional information as needed, and to handle any follow up items that need sending – images, additional information, etc. This gives everyone on the line full transparency.

3. Monitor the Interview

Once introductions are complete and you hand the conversation over to the reporter to begin their questions, you have several jobs to keep in mind as you monitor the interview. The most important thing is to listen carefully and take good notes. Being an active listener in the interview ensures that you can intervene (if need be) so that the message you want to communicate is accurately represented in the story. Listening carefully is also critical for Step 5 when you provide performance feedback to your client. Plus, you may be able to pick up on some new details or tidbits from your client that can be used to craft your next great pitch! Lastly, if your client forgets to mention an important talking point, now is the time to bring it up. If you’re off exploring what your next pie recipe will be and not paying attention to the interview, you may miss your chance.

4. Close the Interview

As the interview comes to a close, always thank all parties for taking the time to conduct and participate in the interview. Second, you should invite the reporter to contact you if they have any further questions or need clarification on anything. Finally, while you have them on the line, you can ask the reporter if they had a sense on when the article will be published. This is key information so that you can send your hard earned media coverage to your client in a timely manner.

5. Provide Your Client with Helpful Feedback

It’s important to provide feedback to your client after a media interview, whether it was positive or negative. You can help them understand how they did and what they can improve upon for next time. This feedback is crucial for helping your client learn and grow as a media personality.

Following these five steps will help you prepare for and facilitate a successful media interview. Planning ahead and being prepared are essential to ensuring a smooth and stress-free interview. Let us know of any additional tips or information you may have!