21 Essential Media Interview Tips

The secret to a successful media interview is preparation.

Properly preparing for a media interview can mean getting your marketing message distributed even more — through news stories, blog posts, and social media sharing.

The following media interview tips were written by Marshall Hoffman, Founder of Hoffman & Hoffman Worldwide — a global media and public relations firm.

How To Prepare for a Media Interview:
21 Essential Interviewing Tips

1. Stay with the information in the press release. Don’t add information unless you are asked.

2. Answer questions directly. Give facts, not opinions. Be positive. Talk about successes. You should determine what are the three main points you need to make in the interview. Make sure each point is covered more than once during the interview.

3. Consider your answers carefully before answering. Everything you say is “on the record.” If you say something inappropriate to a reporter, that is what will be printed or reported. Many journalists use recorders. That is permitted.

4. If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t know the answer. You can call back with the answer once you find it.

5. Answer in short sentences. Don’t make your answers too long or detailed.

6. Don’t try to do two stories in one visit.

7. Most reporters are impatient. Ask the reporter about the amount of time he or she has to spend.

8. Don’t be overly friendly with the journalists. They are not your friends. They are doing a job.

9. Some journalists will not have fully prepared for the interview. Be patient with them. They may have to write two stories in the same day.

10. Phone interviews are just as important as in-person interviews.

11. Often times, journalists have to cancel interviews at the last minute or not show up for scheduled interviews. That should be expected. The media is very chaotic with big stories breaking everywhere.

12. Offer your business cards. Bring plenty of them.

13. In group interviews, don’t contradict or interrupt each other.

14. A secondary purpose of any interview process is to establish a relationship with the journalists, to get them to know you. Whenever they do another story on the same issue, they will call you.

15. Don’t be critical or judgmental.

16. If you don’t understand a question, ask to have it repeated.

17. Speak slowly. Americans are poor linguists. If an Indonesian journalist is interviewing you, speak very slowly.

18. Don’t ask to see the journalist’s story after it is printed. Likewise, don’t ask for a tape of a television segment. We will take care of that.

19. Each interview is important. You will be interviewing with the best in U.S. and international media. What you say in one newspaper interview may end up in 100 newspapers in the U.S., Europe and Asia. The Washington Post’s stories are carried on the The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post Wire, which goes to 223 newspapers worldwide.

20. Formulate some probable media questions in advance of the interviews. Practice them aloud when you receive them.

21. Dress conservatively. Dark blue suits and solid colored shirts/blouses.

Please post your thoughts and comments below. Thanks!

1 Comment

  1. NicWirtz

    Only two stories a day for a journalist? Depending on publication try closer to double figures.