100 Tips for Becoming a Rockstar With the Media

The following tips have been compiled from experience and from conversations with other #PR pros.
Tips have been categorized into before, during and after. Some tips appear more than once under the appropriate category.

Before an interview:

Attend a media training session.
Make a friend of the reporter and remember that the reporter is not your audience, but a conduit through which you can get your message to key stakeholders…readers, listeners, viewers.
Research. Research. Research.
For non-television interviews, always ask if your conversation is being recorded.
To avoid being misquoted, bring your own voice recorder.
If you are nervous in front of the camera (or a lot of people), ask for a closed set.
Never lie.
Dark clothes look best on TV.
If you’re a good “get” for the media or your product/service is getting a lot of press, be very careful about what you post on facebook or Twitter. It can AND WILL be used in news stories (probably the headline).
If you can meet with the reporter before your interview, do it!
Anticipate the 2nd day story and how you can be included in both.
Assume nothing.
If you’re doing an interview via satellite make sure your background is clean and your logo (if applicable) is present.
Prepare talking points in advance if you’re speaking on a complex issue.
Practice in advance.
Anticipate the possible questions.
Prepare for worst case scenarios.
Focus.
If possible, ask for questions to be submitted in advance.
Tell the reporter about off-limit topics. Don’t wait until the middle of the interview.
Remind yourself that it’s a conversation. Not an interrogation.
Eat a lite meal before you go on-air. You don’t want to pass out or throw-up.
Smile.
Think about what you want to accomplish with the interview. Prepare accordingly.
Know your/reporter’s audience and tailor your messages accordingly.
Stand while doing phone interviews as it will allow you to keep focus and it will help you project.
Read/watch a reporter’s last 3 relevant stories/reports as they may reference them during your discussion.
Monitor trends within your industry as these may be referenced as well.
Be on time.
Get a good night’s rest.
Respect deadlines.
Don’t be a snob. There are plenty of other experts out there.
Know what news is. (What’s important for your business may not be important for their audience).
If you can’t put your message(s) on a normal sized post-it, they’re too long.

 

During an interview:

Be open to the reporter’s questions. The only way the public will know your side of the story is if you tell it.
Stick to three (3) key messages, major ideas or facts. Get them in early.
Stay on message.
Keep your answers relevant to the question.
This is the era of the soundbite so be concise. Quotables increase your chances for additional coverage.
Be honest and straight forward.
Be positive.
If a reporter interrupts you before you finish your response, let them finish. (#NoKanye) Continue your thought with, “As I was saying…”
On the otherhand, if a reporter continually interrupts there may be a reason. Don’t run off with the interview.
Ask for clarity if you don’t understand a question.
Pay close attention to body language and signals. Respond appropriately.
If a reporter asks several questions at once you might reply…”You’ve asked several questions…let me respond to the first one…”
Be friendly and smile when appropriate. Remember that you’re talking to a lot of people.
Interviewers like colorful language and clear examples –but keep it simple and conversational.
Avoid industry jargon, abbreviations and acronyms.
Don’t let a reporter put words in your mouth. You can say, “Actually, I meant…”
Don’t repeat a reporter’s terminology unless you want to.
Never repeat a reporter’s “buzzwords” unless you can do it to your advantage.
Avoid using no comment. Simply state that you can’t release the information in question and explain why.
Understand that “off the record” really doesn’t exist. Anything you say can be used…and probably will be used.
Don’t feel obligated to accept the reporter’s facts and figures, or to answer hypothetical questions.
Don’t guess. It’s okay to follow up with additional information or offer to direct the reporter to someone who knows the answers.
Don’t be afraid to ask a reporter to repeat a question if it is unclear.
Never lie.
Don’t be afraid of a silent pause when formulating your response.
Some silence is okay. Don’t feel pressured to fill the air. This is usually when people slip up and say things they will later regret.
Let the reporter lead the discussion.
Breathe.
Listen carefully.
Body language is everything. On camera or off, sit up and lean slightly forward. Don’t swivel (I do this). When standing, don’t move your feet, or sway (I do this too).
Be an active participant.
Be enthusiatic about your product or message. If you don’t care…why should I?
Don’t look at the camera, or monitor. Focus on the interviewer.
Speak a little bit louder than your normal conversational tone. Your facial expression and manner should match your topic. (Be careful about smiling during a crisis).
If you’re a good “get” for the media or your product/service is getting a lot of press, be very careful about what you post on facebook or Twitter. It can AND WILL be used in news stories (probably the headline).
Avoid one-word answers. Use full sentences.
Use memorable phrases.
Be yourself.
Speak with authority. You are the expert.
Assume nothing.
Loosen up. It’s okay to laugh (when appropriate).
If you’re doing a roundtable interview, don’t talk over the other guests. But defend yourself if necessary.
Control your temper.
Think before you speak.
Never use notes during a televised interview. Use them sparingly over the phone so you don’t sound like you’re reading from a script.
Focus.
Smile.
If you stutter or stumble, ask if you can repeat your answer. (Little bit more difficult for live TV. But do it anyway).
When talking to a reporter, avoid mentioning a competing newspaper or network.
When in doubt, be quiet.
Stick to the allotted time frame. Never ask the reporter for more time, let them ask you.
Don’t say negative things about your competitors.
Use different physical techniques to get your point across. (ie. hand motions, raising/lowering your voice).
Don’t jump on anybody’s couch.
Avoid using foul language on camera.
Stay on topic. Don’t change the subject.
Provide anecdotes on how your subject matter relates to the bigger picture. How does it affect the reporter’s audience?
Back up your key messages with facts and examples.
Provide the WIIFM or “what’s in it for me.”
Never exaggerate or provide misleading information.
If you misstate the facts admit it immediately. You can say, “Sorry, I misspoke…”
Use sarcasm sparingly as it hardly ever translates well to print.
Don’t try to be creative. Focus on communicating your message.
You’re the expert. Remember that you know more about your business or industry than the reporter does or else they wouldn’t be talking to you.

 

After an interview:

Attend a media training session.
Never lie.
If you’re a good “get” for the media or your product/service is getting a lot of press, be very careful about what you post on facebook or Twitter. It can AND WILL be used in news stories (probably the headline).
If the camera is shooting you in b-roll footage, make sure you keep the same body language that you used during the interview. (It isn’t over yet!)
Plan for a reporter to ask if there’s anything else you want to mention. Use this time to reiterate your key messages, or add a relevant tidbit to the story.
Ask the reporter to consider you as a source for future stories.
If a story runs without your quotes, follow-up to see how you could have done a better job at providing info.
Understand that an interview doesn’t guarantee a story. Stories get killed all the time.
Reporters are at the mercy of their editors. As a result, your story may not appear for weeks.
Anticipate the 2nd day story and how you can be included in both.
Assume nothing.
Smile.
Be available for follow-up questions (often at the last minute).

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