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!
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