Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working together with some of our clients and experienced journalists to hone media interview skills over Zoom. It was great to be able to spend time working one-on-one with each person to give really tailored advice. Nonetheless, there are some really basic pointers that can help anyone getting ready to speak to the press. They might seem obvious but are worth going through each time you prepare.
This is part of a series of pieces on the building blocks of communications, written by the Mobius team: there's more on social media here, and picking images for press here
Know the format
Always make sure you know in advance which publication or outlet you’re speaking to and what the format of the article is going to be. Is it a straightforward Q&A about a production you’ve been working on? A broader profile which might also encapsulate elements of your personal life, or other specialist information? Or are you giving quotes for a thematic article where what you say will appear alongside the views of others. If you’re working with a PR, they’ll be able to give you a brief so you’re clear on what to expect.
Do your research
As well as understanding the format, it’s worth spending a bit of time understanding who you’re going to be speaking to, both in terms of the person and the publication. Looking a journalist’s previous work up in advance, or checking out their Twitter feed to find out what makes them tick might help establish a rapport. It’s also important to understand the focus of the publication they’re writing for and what their audience is in order to know what kinds of things they might be interested in in relation to your work.
Prepare your messages
Think about what you want to get out of giving the interview. Some people find it useful to imagine the headline they’d like to see on the piece and prepare a few key phrases that might support it. A good rule of thumb is to prepare in advance three points that you would like to get across in the course of the interview, write them down, and make sure you say them at some point during the conversation. Again, if you’re working with a PR they can help you hone and practice this.
Get in the zone
It sounds simple but make sure you give yourself time to prepare. Sit somewhere quiet with a glass of water on hand (and a coffee if a caffeine boost helps your mental agility). Rushing out of rehearsal phone in hand and diving straight into an interview rarely leads to considered responses – it’s worth taking 5 minutes to make sure you’re ready to talk.
This sounds like a silly one, but some well known figures have outfits or accessories they wear to help them get into interview mode. It could anything from a hat to a pair of lucky pants – consider it a type of costume.
Elin Morgan is PR Director at theatre PR agency Mobius Industries.
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