The Key to Nailing Any Media Interview: Preparation

· Media Relations

Promotion Through Media Interviews

The media interview is an excellent way to promote your company, products and services and is a key tool used in public relations.

Do you have an interview with a member of the media coming up? Are you feeling nervous about it? 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people feel anxious when they have to speak in front of a camera or microphone.  

But with a bit of preparation, you can make the experience much less stressful. In this blog post, we’ll give you some tips on how to prepare for a media interview.   

When you’re preparing for a media interview, it’s important to remember that the reporters who will be interviewing you are looking for a story.   

They aren’t necessarily interested in your company or product - they’re interested in how your story can tell a larger story. 

Before any interview, consider the following questions:   

- What is the bigger picture?   

- What is the story that you want to tell?   

- What are your top three key messages?   

- Who is your target audience?   

- What is interesting and relevant to the reporter and their readers/viewers?  

- How can I deliver the information?

- What can I give the journalist that's new? 

Key Messages   

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for a media interview is to identify your key messages. What are the three or four points that you want to make sure the interviewer remembers?   

Write them down and memorize them so that you can easily refer to them during the interview. It is also important to anticipate questions that the interviewer might ask and have answers prepared.

However, avoid sounding scripted—instead, focus on delivering your key messages naturally.   

Be Aware of Your Surroundings 

One of the worst things that can happen ina media interview is for something to go wrong and for the interviewer to focus on that instead of the message you’re trying to communicate.   

For example, if you trip and fall during an interview, or if you say something that’s taken out of context, the interviewer will probably focus on that rather than your message. Unfortunately, once something goes wrong, it’s hard to recover from it.

Make sure that there is nothing in the background that could take away from your message (e.g. a messy room, loud noises, graffiti or signage).   

Therefore, it’s important to prepare well and to be aware of potential pitfalls before going into an interview.   

Short Videos

There is a trend for reporters to take a short video (think TikTok, Instagram, Facebook) at the start of an interview for use as a teaser or standalone post. Just as the golden rule in a TV interview is ‘the microphone is always on’, the golden rule for video is ‘always be aware of the camera’.   

These short video interviews get posted immediately, so if something goes wrong, it will be there for the world to see within a minute.   

To prepare for this and avoid any potential embarrassment, before the interview begins, ask the reporter to do a quick walk-through with you if they want to shoot video and if you can see the result before it goes out.   

Stay Focused on Your Story   

When you speak to a reporter, it’s important to stay focused on your story. Don’t get sidetracked by questions that are irrelevant to your key messages (media training prepares you for this and how to get interview control back) and prepare by knowing how to get interviews back on track.   

And finally, don’t forget the most important part of any media interview: the soundbite. This is the one line reporters will use to sum up your story. Make sure you have a strong sound bite before going into the interview that doesn’t come across rehearsed, forced, or have little or no relevance to the interview topic.   


This is important in a media interview. For example, if you’re being interviewed in front of a factory, make sure that you know what the factory produces. Or how your quotes will be used, check what this is so you can provide a context for your statements.   

Be prepared for questions designed to trip you up and practice beforehand answers to difficult questions.   

These questions may be:   

- Asking for a comment on something that’s not related to your area of expertise   

- Asking for an opinion on a controversial issue   

- Asking for confirmation of rumours or allegations   

- Asking about the financial performance ofyour company (this happens a lot)   

- Asking questions based on something taken out of context   

Don’t Get Caught Off Guard  

With every single interview, there is potential to be caught off guard. Before the interview, make a list of the sensitive questions and how can respond. This will help you avoid saying something that you may later regret in the actual interview.   

Other Tips  

The best way to prepare for an interview is to practice; recording yourself on your phone or asking a friend or colleague to interview you, followed by a critique of your performance.   

Some people practice in front of a mirror or with someone who knows about media interviews.   

Before an interview, take some time to familiarize yourself with the reporter’s work and the story. This will help you better prepare for the interview and even help break the ice if mention a story they wrote.   

Memorise a few stats about the company or topic. ‘We have 30,000 employees’ or ‘We have over xx thousand customers’ as these give the interviewer a little more to work with and help readers understand the size of your company. 

Commonly, spokespeople use an 'equivalent' in their answer to show the scale, e.g. ‘The amount of orange juice produced by our production facilities in one year would fill xx Olympic-sized swimming pools’.   

Helping Stay Calm and Focused 

The pressure of a media interview can be intense, but by preparing for it ahead of time and following some basic tips,you can stay calm and focused. This will help you communicate your key messages effectively and make a positive impression on reporters.   

It’s also helpful to have a couple of key messages you want to get across during the interview in your ‘back pocket’ ready to pull out. 

Media Training   

Media training is essential for any public figure or business executive who needs to speak with the media. Without it, you may feel nervous and unprepared when speaking on camera; however media training can help ensure that your key messages are communicated effectively as well asgive some pointers about staying calm in an interview situation.   

Media training teaches you how to:   

- Deal with tough questions   

- Stay focused on your key messages   

- Avoid getting caught off guard   

- Look and sound confident on camera   

- Handle the pressure of a media interview   

- Deliver the best outcome   

Whether the interview is for print, television, or radio, the tips and techniques you will learn in media training will help you deliver your message effectively.   

Final Thoughts 

Preparing for an interview is critical to ensuring the best possible outcome.    

Make sure you have strong sound bites prepared, and focus on telling a story that will be interesting to their readers or viewers. Practicing will help you feel more confident and ensure that you’re able to deliver your key messages effectively.   

First interviews are always hard and nerve wracking. But the more you do them, the better you’ll get at nailing them.

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