If you’re new to press interviews, the best rule of thumb is to keep your answers short, pithy and quotable. Say what you want to see in print (or broadcast). Keep it conversational; try to avoid long narratives that leave no room for interjection [by the journalist!]. After all, you know how it feels to be subjected to someone who waxes on without taking a breath. If the interview is by phone, which most will be, have a sheet of talking points so you don’t get flustered and fumble.
During the interview:
- Say the most important thing you have to say first and say it slowly and clearly.
- Don’t build to your conclusion. Be brief in your replies.
- Use your answers to make a point or convey a memorable message about your business
- A message should answer who we are; what we do; what makes us different
- If you don’t like how you started start over.
- Avoid jargon or acronyms. Use analogies to illustrate points.
- Never say “no comment”. If you can’t answer for legal reasons, just say so.
- Don’t speculate or make predictions you can’t substantiate; reporters will not accept your claims at face value.
- Remain focused but enthusiastic.
- Don’t make things up.
- Don’t bash the competition.
- Don’t ramble; check in with the reporter; ask if he needs clarification.
- Ask for clarification if you don’t get the question; repeat the question if necessary.
- There is no such thing as “off the record.” Everything you say to the reporter has the potential to be published.
- Turn off your cell phone.
- When you’ve answered the question, stop talking.
- Do not ask for a review copy of the story before it goes to press. To avoid bias journalists never share drafts with their sources.
What’s a sound bite?
A short, memorable statement that captures the essence of the issue and illustrates the point being made. The key to a good sound bite is:
- Conclusion first (think of the headline or lead paragraph in a newspaper story)
- Add an example or supporting information
- End by explaining what it means to the reader/listener/viewer.