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5 Tips to Ace Your Next Media Interview

Our media trainer shares tips to boost confidence when interacting with reporters and news outlets.

For 15 years before joining Moore, I had a job that made many people in power avoid me, fear me or speak to me only reluctantly and in awkward half-sentences. I was … (insert scary music …) a reporter.

Today, one of my roles at Moore is leading media trainings for clients to help people in leadership positions move from fearing interviews and press conferences to embracing them. Any leader today that wants to stay relevant and influential – whether running a multimillion-dollar corporation, a government agency or a nonprofit – needs to be confident and adept at interacting with reporters and news outlets.

Through media training, leaders learn how to not only handle tough questions and navigate sensitive issues but also communicate their message clearly, concisely and consistently. Media-savvy leaders recognize the media’s power to shape not just an organization’s brand but also a leader’s personal brand, setting them up as thought leaders within their industry or space. They then learn how to leverage and build media relationships for long-term benefits.

But, yes, I know. Reporters can seem scary with all their questions and cameras and microphones in your face. Take a deep breath, and then use these five tactics to nail your next media interview:

  1. Think like a reporter: A solid reporter wants strong visuals, powerful stories and data, and they want it on time. So when you are providing an interview, come with an anecdote or story that illustrates the topic or issue. Speak visually – if your company is producing x-number of new gadgets, how many times would those gadgets fill a college football stadium? Always come armed with the data that media need. And honor their deadlines by being responsive and punctual.
  2. Research like a reporter: Blind spots are dangerous – so make sure you do your own reporting and “digging” before the interview or press conference. What do you know about the reporter or reporters’ recent coverage of your organization? Are they friend or foe? Do their stories reflect more “soft” news features reporter or investigative reporter? What angle are they taking on this story, and what are your key messages around the topic?
  3. Show up like a veteran news anchor: First impressions matter. Whether you’re interviewing for a print piece, doing a live press conference or going into a studio for a pre-taped news segment, show up as the professional leader you are. This means dressing appropriately and being mindful of things like posture for the camera. Have hair and makeup in place; men, some face powder can help reduce shine.
  4. Talk like an editor: No matter how poetic your quotes or how deep and important your perspective, a time-pressed editor is back in the newsroom waiting to cut it back to fit a newsprint hole or a 6 p.m. news segment. The best way to ensure that what you say is published the way you say it, is to keep it succinct. The average TV soundbite has dwindled from 75 seconds in 1968 to less than 10 seconds today. Come to any media opportunity ready to get your message across in 21 words, reflecting 3 key messages, conveyed in under 20 seconds. Remember, 21-3-20.

Act like YOU. Nothing makes an interview more awkward than someone trying to pretend. The best thing any leader or CEO can do is to just show up prepared, pleasant and real.

At Moore, we frequently host customized media trainings for our clients. If you would like our help to amplify your voice and shine in the spotlight, call Audrey Goff at 850.224.0174 or email her at [email protected].

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