Ten Tips For Delivering A Media Interview Like a Pro

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Yan Simard of Zaptap

You’ve successfully launched. You’ve secured a brag worthy list of investors. And now you’re the talk of the town.

Every startup founder loves to see their name in the lights. A great story can generate a ton of traffic to your site, but your ability to help steer the conversation towards headlines that will appeal to your target demographic is key.

If it’s conversion you’re after, it’s up to you to ensure that your message is on target. What do you do? Why do you do it? A vanity win is great but it’s not guaranteed to generate users. The best interviews show why your product is worth using. They build credibility. They show why you are a thought leader and why you are better than any competitor you’re up against.

The bad news? It’s a lot of pressure and it’s a reality you’re going to face.

The good news? The list below can help.

Here are our tried and true best practices in delivering a media interview like a pro.

1. Get the Dirt

Familiarize yourself with the outlet, show, podcast, etc. prior to giving your interview and learn what you can about the reporter, interview format and audience. If possible, fine tune your message and branding to cater to the audience. You’re only given a short amount of time to relay your message – make it as effective as possible.

2. Practice Safe Interviewing

Be prepared. Create a list of questions in advance that the interviewer may ask. Do a dry-run with colleagues, friends or family. Prepping for a television interview? Film yourself doing the practice interview and play back. While it’s common to feel uncomfortable watching yourself on video, you can learn valuable insight into what you need to improve on and what simply didn’t work.

3. Know Your Stories

Narrow your key points – the must say comments before the interview. What are the most important messages you would like to convey? Sometimes your message will be your elevator pitch. Other times your two-liners may work. Depending on the length of the interview, you could be rushed. By identifying the top three points you need to get across, you can assure that no matter how short or how long the interview is, you’ve covered your bases. Always repeat them if given the opportunity to re-word or re-use in a new sentence.

4. Give Good Sound

Always answer a question by repeating the question. Short answers are better than long, drawn-out ones. Soundbites are important because your words can and will be edited. Giving proper soundbites ensures that you’re giving the correct message.

5. Say The Wrong Thing – They’ll Quote You

While this may seem sneaky or unfair, the truth is – you are always on the record. Everything you say can be quoted (and it will be if you say something colorful, off-handed or inappropriate.) The interview isn’t over until you’ve parted ways from the interviewer. Some reporters have said they received their best soundbites from interviewees on the walk to the elevator after the interview was complete.

6. Rehearsed ≠ Awesome

Always have a list of notes for phone interviews but avoid writing out full sentences. You may be tempted to read off your notes and sound rehearsed or unnatural. If you have a great line that’s awesome and powerful – make sure you nail it or have that written down especially.

7. Numbers Get Printed. Fluff Doesn’t.

Always provide at least one good example and/or statistic to back your product, arguments, opinion. Numbers are what gets reprinted. Always use your most impressive numbers and leave out the bad.

8. No Comment is a Bad Comment

Never say “no comment.” Instead offer something along the lines of “Unfortunately I’m not equipped to provide an answer at this time…” Always offer to follow-up. Segway into something you can talk about instead. Offer different information that is equally relevant.

9. Pay Attention. Take Cues.

Let the interviewer lead. Read their actions. Mimic their body language. If they encourage you to talk more, do it. If they’re interrupting you, take this as a sign to perhaps get straight to your most important point (read: wrap it up.)

10. Speak Slowly and Passionately

Always talk slowly. Be passionate. Think of politicians and how they speak slowly and pronounce everything clearly (ie: Obama.) It will not only allow people to listen and think – it gives interviewers the chance to take notes and ensure that you’re properly quoted.

With all of this in mind, take a deep breath and enjoy the experience. It’s your moment to shine and you deserve it. So don’t let the interview jitters stop you from delivering your message clearly and ensuring your passion is contagious.

Have questions? Maybe we can help. Tweet at us @Onboardly.

Heather Anne Carson - January 21st, 2013 / No Comments

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