“Being prepared” key to successful media interviews

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In my last blog I spoke about the role of media relations in a communications program, and the importance of understanding who it is you want to reach (i.e. your audience) in order to target activities.

Two other, equally important, aspects of a media relations program are: knowing what you want to say to your audiences; and understanding what they are interested in.

Too often publicity opportunities are wasted because the person being interviewed doesn’t really know what they want to get across, much less how to sell their story in an interesting way.

For example, a fund manager who is only interested in talking about his or her products, rather than talking to the issues around investing in the asset class, is likely to find the interview counter-productive.

The approach described above doesn’t show knowledge or generosity by providing useful information, and the quotes are less likely to be used than those of someone willing to talk about looking for value and yield, for example, or what sectors will help reduce investment risk and volatility.

Moreover, it is likely that the journalist will not contact the fund manager again the next time they are looking for a helpful and knowledgeable source.

It becomes a wasted opportunity, and wasting opportunities is like paying for advertising space without having advertising copy to fill it.

Knowing from the outset the three or four points they would like to get across will help the person being interviewed remain focused, so that they are more likely to communicate useful messages.

Indeed, not being prepared carries the risk that the interviewee ends up saying something best left unsaid, or creating an impression inconsistent with what is hoped for.

For example, the fund manager in the example above might want to get across an image of being capable, expert, knowledgeable about equity markets, and skilful in identifying undervalued opportunities.

This won’t be achieved if a manager talks company product the whole time, jumps from subject to subject, waffles, talks about irrelevant matters or, most dangerous of all, mentions subjects outside their area of expertise.

It’s a bit of a cliché, but when it comes to media interviews, the Boy Scout motto of “Be prepared” can’t be bettered.