Written by Lucinda Armitage-Price
I didn’t expect my professional and personal life to collide when watching Keeping up with the Kardashians. But that all changed last week, when I saw they were being media trained (season 14 episode 11).
I’ve watched this family for 11 years. I’ve read about them in countless articles and I’ve seen them in 100s of TV interviews. But this was a reminder that no matter how experienced you are with the press, having one-off media training doesn’t cut the mustard.
Even though our clients aren’t in the same realm as the Kardashians, the basics of every interview are the same for everyone. So, in case you had better things to do than watch the clan in training, here’s how to make the most of a media opportunity:
- Do a bit of research. Find out as much as you can about the journalist and the publication/TV or radio programme running the interview. It’ll help your confidence. The logistics are also important – how long will it last and is it live or pre-recorded?
- Knowledge is power but preparation is everything. Know what three key messages you want to get across and spend some time practising different ways to convey them.
- When it comes to the interview, make sure you use every question as an opportunity to articulate one of your three key points. That doesn’t mean you don’t answer the question. You can do that too, briefly, but never lose sight of the fact that you have something you want to say. From your perspective, that’s the whole point of a media interview: it’s your chance to communicate your message.
- Try and take control (but don’t be aggressive – do it gently). Answer questions in a way that lets you say what you want. Use phrases like ‘I think the point to remember here is…’ ‘That’s an important question, but the real issue is…’, ‘Well, let me just say…’ All these are perfectly legitimate ways of answering questions and allow you to set the tone.
- Be confident. Journalists (especially TV and radio reporters and presenters) are good at putting you on the back foot and the whole broadcast environment (lights, cameras, etc) can be intimidating. But remember: you will always know more about your subject than the person who is interviewing you. And there is nothing like correcting a factual inaccuracy in a question to give you natural authority.
- If it’s an information gathering interview for a journalist writing a story, there’s no problem confirming details after the event. This is where your PR agency can help you out. They’ll also be able to negotiate the thorny question of quote-checking.
- Finally, enjoy the experience and learn from it. Review your performance. What did you get right? What could you have done better? The more interviews you do, the more confident you will be and the better you will perform.
So even if you think you’re as well versed at handling the press as the Kardashian’s are, take a moment to make sure you’re conveying your message in the right way. It could make all the difference as to whether someone stays on the page, or moves onto something else.