The goal of an interview is to communicate your key messages to a public via the reporter and his/her media outlet. It is not to educate the reporter or show how much you know. The key is to focus on your key messages.
Define your agenda. Clarify your communication objective(s).
Be clear why you are doing the interview – keep this aim in mind during the interview to ensure the most effective answers.
Decide on three or four things you would like to get across.
Determine how the interview might offer you the chance to make positive points or provide helpful information about your topic/issue/organisation.
Write down and practice key message points in brief statements or bullet points.
Remove jargon or long explanations.
Have back up data to support your points if appropriate. Review facts and figures so you are comfortable discussing them.
Anticipate questions and your responses. Are you planning to talk about the same thing the reporter expects to discuss?
Don’t write a script but do have some brief notes to refer to
Get to know the media outlet – what type of publication is it? Who is their target audience?
If the interview is at your office, be prepared early and have all calls and interruptions held, make sure email alerts are on silent.
If the interview is in your office ensure any sensitive material is tidied away and PC/laptop screens, if in view, do not contain any confidential information.
Try not to be interviewed behind your desk as it creates a barrier between you and the reporter.
Pre-interviews – some reporters spend up to 30 minutes prior to an interview warming up the subject. Some spend five seconds. Take the opportunity to find out what the reporter is looking for and set the tone for the interview.
Include humour where appropriate – people respond well to laughter and a good anecdote can help you relax.
Do ask when a story or article is likely to be run.
If you don’t have or know the information requested, don’t pretend you do. Offer to get back to the reporter with the information.
Never say something you don’t want to appear in print or be aired.
Don’t go ‘off the record’ unless you have good reason to trust the reporter. Some say there is no real ‘off the record’.
If you make an error, correct yourself as soon as possible.