When I do an interview, I always try to make it fun. I start with the easy stuff, like what’s your full name and title/how you would like me to refer to you in the article. This gets them talking and over the initial fear. Then we chat, with me leading them through the interview with questions that would normally come up in any conversation where someone is interested in either you or what you do. Once we start rolling, my subjects usually settle down into conversational mode.
But then…sometimes I hit them with the hard questions at the end. I think those are the questions that they think should scare them. But they shouldn’t be scared. These are questions that make them think…like, “What is the philosophy you always wanted to share,” or “Tell me in one word how you would describe your business.” Often, I get my best insights into people by asking these types of questions.
If you are interviewed by a journalist, there are a few things to keep in mind. These will help you prepare for the interview and keep you from saying something you shouldn’t.
How To Interview With the Media
Rule #1. EVERYTHING you say is ON THE RECORD.
I can’t tell you how many times people have felt so comfortable with me that they say, “I’ll tell you this, but it’s off the record.” If I weren’t so kind, this is the type of thing that could really get you or your business in trouble. Remember that you are talking to the media; a person who is looking for a juicy story. There is no “off the record.”
Now, there is a difference between someone who is a hard-knuckle journalist looking for a scandal, and someone like me who is often creating a pleasant profile for a magazine story, but you never know which type of journalist you’re speaking with. Always remember that even though they may sound and act like your friend, the media can potentially be dangerous.
Rule #2. Prepare something in advance.
I often ask my interviewees to gather together some information and send it to me in advance. This gives me an opportunity to know them better prior to the interview, and it also helps them to get their thoughts together. They’ll often find relevant items about their businessthat they had forgotten about.
When preparing for a live interview, such as on television, radio, podcast, etc., send a list of questions in advance to the person who will be interviewing you. Line up the questions in a logical fashion. The journalist really appreciates this because it not only makes their job easier, it ensures that they hit on the most interesting and relevant points. The journalist may stray from the questions, but for the most part, they will stick to them. This also helps you control the interview and know what’s coming.
Rule #3. The media can sense BS.
If you think you are going to lie or give the interviewer a BS story, understand that we can see right through it. We interview people for a living and are experienced in the subtleties our subjects try to pull over on us. We can hear it in your voice over the phone and see it in your body language in person. If you’re lucky, the interviewer will skip over the BS. If you’re not, you may be hit squarely between the eyes with the truth. We do our research in advance and know a lot about a lot of subjects. Be prepared. If you are looking to get a media placement and lie or BS through the interview, your story is likely to be canned and not appear. You could also be blackballed against any future media coverage. It’s best to be humble and tell the truth.
Rule #4. Speed counts.
If a journalist contacts you for an interview, you MUST call them back immediately. Journalists are often on short deadlines for stories and generally have a list of potential subjects for the story. If they do not get in contact with you right away, or you do not follow up within the shortest period of time, they will and do go on to the next person and you will miss your chance. This is especially important when it is a breaking story or in reference to a current trend or happening. If you simply cannot speak to the journalist at that moment, at least call them back immediately to schedule a time later that day or the next day. Ignoring their call will put you at the bottom of their call list for future pieces, if you remain on the list at all.
If you are pitching the media, or want to get in on a story, your availability is crucial. Give the journalist all the ways you can be contacted (cell, business and home phones, emails, etc.), and if possible, the best times to contact you. They will not publish this private information; it is simply so that they can reach you quickly.
Rule #5. It’s all about the angle.
When we interview for a story, we already know the angle we want to present, and will try to keep the interview on track for that particular angle. If you wander off course to information that, although fascinating to you, is irrelevant to the article, the journalist will stop you and redirect you to the angle. Please don’t consider this to be rude. Your time and our time is limited and we need to get the information we need. Allowing subjects to rattle on just eats up time and we won’t be able to get to the really important questions or issues we need to discuss.
A journalist may also ask you the same questions more than once, perhaps in different ways. This means that they are interested in what you are saying, but you haven’t quite hit the angle or quote they need. Allow the journalist to control the interview and don’t get angry if they change course on you. They are simply trying to get a good story, not put you on the spot.
When I interview for a piece, I often tell my subject the angle in advance. When I sell a story, the angle is often dictated by the Editor or Publisher for the media who will publish it. Other times, like for my columns, I set the angle. It’s OK to ask what the journalist is looking for.
Need Media Training? Contact All the Buzz
We work with clients who need to prepare for media interviews. We can help you gather information, formulate a journalist question list, and create a media kit. (See our post on media kits).
We can also help you train for media interviews by holding mock interviews either via telephone or in person. If you are preparing for live interviews, you will also know how to dress, stand or sit, and present yourself. Contact All the Buzz.
Since I like to travel and I like to write, I thought I’d combine my two loves into a travel blog called Mid-Atlantic Traveler covering the area I know best: the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. I’ll be posting about some of my own adventures as well as interesting finds, hidden gems and plenty of things to do through our region…and beyond.
Recently we wrote about the new Frank Lloyd Wright property where you can stay overnight, the Maine Avenue Fish Market in DC, the International Water Tasting Competition (where I am a judge), the Green Bank Science Center and telescope in WV, York County PA Factory Tours and how to explore Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, to name a few. And there are many more stories to come.
Some of my travel articles have appeared in magazines and newspapers throughout our region, and some adventures will be new to me–and possibly you. Be sure to follow our blog to keep up with the latest finds.
You Have the Opportunity to Guest Post on Mid-Atlantic Traveler!
If you’d like to write about an interesting trip, location or find in the Mid-Atlantic region, we’re always looking for people to guest post! That way you can tell people that you are a travel writer too!
Or if you don’t want to write your own piece and submit photographs, tell me about your favorite finds in the Mid-Atlantic region and we’ll be glad to write about them.
Follow Us on Mid-Atlantic Traveler
Exploring not only the world, but our own neighborhoods is a wonderful way to learn about our communities and expand our horizons. Join me in supporting Mid-Atlantic Traveler.
As a journalist, I hear fabulous stories from people every single day. Whether they are my clients or people I meet in the grocery store, I realize that everybody has a story and I am all ears to hear it.
So many business people either miss or disregard the opportunity to share their unique story with the world. And hence, they miss the many public relations opportunities the media can provide.
Why You Should Get Your Story in the Media
It Gets People Talking
If a journalist finds your story interesting, and a publisher thinks it is interesting enough to write about, then thousands of other people will too. I published a feature story about “What really goes on during spring break,” and was standing behind two moms in the grocery line one day when I overheard them talking about what they learned from the story. “I’m not sure I’ll let my daughter go without a chaperone now,” I heard one say. Think of all the people you can impact from your own story!
It Establishes You as the Expert
Nothing establishes you better as an expert in your field than a third-party endorsement. You can talk all day about how wonderful, talented and educated you are, but that’s just you talking. However, when a credible outside source — like the media — cites you as the expert or tells your story, suddenly you are elevated in the reader’s or viewer’s eyes.
You Can Get Fantastic Marketing Mileage From It
An often-missed opportunity is the ability to use your media appearance in your marketing. Business people should take every opportunity to share their print, online or video story with the world. Continue reading →
Get the Facts
First, it provides us with the facts we need about a company’s products, services, customer service policies, history, background, target customer audience and goals.
Get the Tone
Second, it gives us the opportunity to “hear” the company owner. We listen not just for the facts but for how the owner represents the business. Does he or she speak using technical language? Are the sentences long or short? Is there humor? This helps us to write in “their voice,” not our own, and is especially helpful when writing a speech the interviewee will be delivering. Most of the time our client remarks, “It sounds just like me!”
Get the Customer
Listening also helps us to uncover problems the owner may be having in the business, or issues their customers might be having. These can and should be addressed when creating good copy. Continue reading →
All the Buzz was pleased to create the copy for the website for Advanced Family Dentistry, an existing dental practice operated by Dr. Sonny Kim in Reston, Virginia.
Dr. Kim’s dental practice had been open for many years, and required a refreshed website to reflect a more modern and professional look. A bright new design, easy navigation, and short, yet informative copy was just what he needed and wanted.
We noticed that some of the basic information people need to know was missing from the original site and added this to the new site, along with the new and more advanced specialties now offered by the practice. The new copy highlights the benefits of Advanced Family Dentistry’s dental care, customer service appeal, and experience.
The new website introduces an informative blog that highlights the various areas of Dr. Kim’s practice and answers questions people may have about dental care and dental issues. The new copy and blog boosted his search engine optimization (SEO) to make him more easily found in an organic search of dentists in the Reston and Northern Virginia area. It will continue to climb in the rankings as more and more focused content is added.
Professional practices, like dental and doctor offices, need to update their their websites regularly. An old, outdated or unprofessional website will not create confidence when trying to attract new patients. It will also not serve as a marketing tool or appear in Google searches. And as most people turn to the Internet to find services they need, this can be disastrous for a practice’s ongoing success.
For Expertly-Written Website Copy, Contact All the Buzz
If you need to update your website’s look or copy, need a professionally-written blog, or would like to improve your SEO rankings, please contact All the Buzz.
When I was director of marketing for a national company, my office was situated right next to that of the president’s. One day, he walked by my door and saw me sitting in the visitor chair at the opposite side of the desk than my normal chair. I was just sitting.
The president stopped in the doorway and asked me, “What are you doing?”
I answered, “I’m looking at the company from the customer’s point of view.”
We are often so busy working at our own jobs that we can overlook the point of view our customer sees. Therefore, it is good to either take a moment to “sit in their chair,” or hire an outside eye (trained consultant) who can identify just what it is the customer sees…and needs.
As a hired marketing consultant, I have made the tiniest tweaks in someone’s presentation, look, office, retail space or marketing strategy that have made huge differences the next time they Continue reading →
I love this quote from Warren Buffett because it truly describes what sales and marketing is all about.
If your clients or customers are complaining about the price of the services or goods you are offering, they probably don’t understand the value of what they are buying. And this is where you need to beef up your marketing efforts.
We’ve all heard how we must feature the benefits of an item, not its features when selling. This concept takes that credo to a new level. People will pay — and pay handsomely — for something they value.
Within the past few months I had the opportunity to work with a start-up company in creating its brand and new website. We went round and round with the pricing for copywriting on their new site. If it weren’t for the fact that I was referred to them by someone they respected, I’m not sure they would have hired a copywriter at all. They simply didn’t see the value in good writing or the need to pay for it. But in the end, Continue reading →