Monday, January 23, 2012

Radio interview tips

So far we've discussed preparing for TV interviews as well as for print (newspaper or magazine) interviews. Getting ready for a radio interview involves a combination of the recommended preparation for a TV or print interview.

As in any interview, it's helpful to know the background information of the radio show and the person who will be interviewing you. Does the show tend to lean toward one side or the other politically? Is the interviewer generally enthusiastic and positive or often stirring up negativity?

Also, think about your objective for the interview -- what you want to get as a result of participating. Consider your key messages; you will want to often come back to these during the interview. Write down supporting facts or examples that you can use during the interview. A great aspect of radio interviews is that they are usually done over the phone; even if the interview is in the studio, you can have your notes in front of you.

According to presentation and media trainer Mary Milla of What's Your Point?, radio interviews have the following characteristics:
  • They are generally short (five to 10 minutes long).
  • The reporters often know a little bit about the topic.
  • A broadcast soundbite typically lasts nine to 15 seconds, so limit your answers to about 30 seconds to avoid being misquoted.
As always, remember to be enthusiastic and to avoid saying "no comment."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Preparing for a newspaper or magazine interview

Preparation can be the key to success if you're going to be interviewed by a newspaper or magazine reporter. Considering time constraints and efficiency, you probably will be interviewed over the phone.

So to get ready, here are some suggestions.

Start out by gathering some background information on the reporter and the publication. By doing research on the types of stories that the reporter has written as well as his or her educational and professional background, you can get a perspective on the types of questions that the reporter might ask in the interview.

As in any type of interview, think of two or three messages or key points that you want to communicate. In the ideal situation, one of these key messages would be the headline or the news hook of the story. If you know what you want to get out of the interview, you will be able to stay focused and bring the interview back on track if you see it going off course.

Print (newspaper or magazine) interviews differ from television or radio ones in a couple of ways, according to media trainer Mary Milla:
  • Newspaper quotes run about 10 to 25 words. To avoid getting misquoted, keep your answers to fewer than 75 words.
  • Print reporters can conduct longer interviews and have more research time.
  • If there's something that you don't know the answer to, you can say "I don't know," and get back to the reporter.
As in any interview, avoid "no comment," because it leaves a guilty impression. Remember that you're always on the record; if you don't want something in the story, don't say it.

Finally, if a reporter calls you and wants to interview you right away, it's OK to ask what his or her deadline is, what types of questions he or she has, and to tell him or her that you will call him or her back.

For a collection of more public relations tips, insights and reflections, buy the book "19 Tips for Successful Public Relations: Insights on Media Relations and Reputation Management" from!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

TV interview tips

Your public relations professional just scored a TV interview for you -- congratulations! Now what?

Let's take a look at how you can shine and represent your organization effectively.

First, get some background information on the reporter or the TV show. Look at some previous interviews -- is the reporter generally hard-hitting, or relatively neutral? It's good to have a feel for the reporter's personality.

Second, prepare by developing and practicing two or three key messages or major points. Know what you want to communicate -- think of this as the headline or news hook.

According to presentation and media trainer Mary Milla of What's Your Point?, TV interviews differ from radio or newspaper interviews in a couple of key ways:
  • A broadcast soundbite runs nine to 15 seconds. In order to not get misquoted, Milla recommends limiting your answers to 75 words (about 30 seconds).
  • TV interviews typically are short, and the reporters are generally not well-versed in the topic.
Finally, be energetic! In the interview, answer the reporter's questions with energy and enthusiasm. That helps you to come across as credible. (Just don't go overboard like Tom Cruise on Oprah's couch!)

Oh, and by the way, everything is on the record. Be careful with what you say; if you don't want something to be used, don't say it. And don't say "no comment" -- it just leaves the impression of guilt. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What is a press release?

There are several tools and tactics that can be used to communicate an organization's news to the media. One of the most popular methods is the press release (also known as a news release). To provide a concrete example, below is a press release that I wrote and distributed when I worked for a company called West. Let's take a look at some of the key elements of a press release:

1. Company information: The company name, address, phone number and website URL let journalists know who is sending the information.
2. Media contact: Journalists need to know whom to contact for more information or to request an interview. Often the media contact is the person who wrote the press release, but it's more important for the contact to be someone whom journalists can get in touch with quickly if they would like to do a story.
3. Headline: Summarizes the essence of the story; Ann Wylie, a highly respected communications professional, recommends that the headline be eight words or fewer.
4. Subhead/deck: Provides an opportunity to expand a bit upon the headline while still providing a summary. Wylie recommends that the deck be 14 words or fewer.
5. Dateline: Includes information on the city and state the information is originating from as well as the date of release.
6. Body: This is the essence of the news release, and includes more details about the announcement, quotes from appropriate people, etc. When writing the body, try to think like a journalist. Consider what will be most interesting to a media outlet's audience (the news hook). Given that many media outlets are doing more with less, there's a distinct possibility that your press release could be used verbatim.
7. Boilerplate: Offers a summary of the organization issuing the press release, such as services offered, ticker symbol, key statistics, etc.
8. Close: Lets the journalist know that this is the end of the press release; typically "###" or "-30-". Also, in case the pages get separated, it's important to include "2 of 3" or the respective number of pages.

A related tactic used to announce information -- generally events -- to the media is called a media advisory. Below is an example from my days at Musicland Stores Corporation.

Let's take a look at the key elements of a media advisory:
1. Contact information: It's important for reporters to know whom to contact if they want more information or need credentials to cover an event.
2. Headline: Again, a pithy summary is best.
3. Facts: This is the essence of the media advisory, answering the core questions that reporters have about an event and why it is newsworthy.
4. Boilerplate: Offers a summary of the organization issuing the media advisory, such as services offered, ticker symbol, key statistics, etc.

In general, media advisories should be limited to one page to make it easier for reporters to capture the essence of an event -- the purpose of a media advisory is to get the reporter to attend the event in person.

For a collection of more public relations tips, insights and reflections, buy the book "19 Tips for Successful Public Relations: Insights on Media Relations and Reputation Management" from!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...