Four Simple Things Not to Do During Media Interviews

An interview or story with a reputable media outlet can be a boon or a bust for a company. With this in mind, the following are four common, but often overlooked, errors interviewees make:

1. Mumbling.

I recently listened in on a client phone interview. Afterwards, the reporter said that while it was a helpful interview, he may not have any usable quotes because he couldn’t clearly understand my client. Keep in mind that reporters often record interviews. But in order for your quotes to make it into the story, you need to speak clearly–and try to avoid mobile and speaker phones whenever possible.

2. “I’m not an expert on this, but…”

If a reporter is interviewing you, it’s because you are an expert with insight not generally available to the regular public. You’re on the inside, and the reporter wouldn’t be asking you these questions if he or she didn’t think you had helpful thoughts. Never claim you’re not an expert–it will only deter the reporter from using you as a source in the future. If you must, it’s best to point them to a colleague who might have that knowledge.

3. Ease up on the industry jargon.

Sometimes it’s necessary to get into the weeds on a subject to really explain the concept. However, most reporters won’t know the subject as well as you. Don’t assume that a reporter has your level of knowledge unless told so by your PR consultant. The more straightforward language you use, the easier it is to quote you.

4. Try to avoid rescheduling.

Consistently rescheduling interviews signals that a reporter’s time is less important than yours. Worse, reporters are often on deadline, and they look bad if they hand in their story late it because they were counting on you. Be clear about scheduling constraints, and offer multiple time slots. That lets the reporter know you’re interested in helping.

Sometimes, the best source is really just the most easily understood and accessible one!

By Sara Guenoun


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