PR Tips: Media Relations (Part 1)

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In Part 1 of our series on media relations tips, we address some common “dos and donts” for your interviews:

Your Responsibilities

  • Arrive at an interview on time – that means arrive early 🙂
  • Be cordial to reporters
  • Deliver your key message points with or without the interviewer’s help
  • Show enthusiasm and animation at all times
  • Do not appear on a competitive program if that is requested
  • Provide a talk show host with a list of questions you would like to have asked, whether or not that is requested

What you should know about the format of an interview:

  • The type of media the reporter represents
  • The length of the interview/talk show
  • Is the television program live or taped?
  • Is there a studio audience?
  • Will there be calls during the interview from listeners who may have questions?
  • The personality of the host/interviewer
  • If it is a talk show, will there be other panelists?
  • Does the host/interviewer work from prepared questions?
  • Does the program allow for use of graphics, slides, video or a demonstration?
  • Does the program have a makeup person?
  • What are the dominant colors on the set for wardrobe planning?

What to take to an interview, or provide in advance:

  • Photos or video footage, if requested
  • Your biography
  • A press kit
  • Any quotes/success stories you might want to use to drive home a point
  • Your notes, if you need them. It’s okay to use them (reporters do too), but do not read them on air or have them in your lap – refresh yourself beforehand.
  • A handkerchief or tissues for TV interviews (hot lights)
  • An emergency kit: needle and thread, tape, comb, etc.

Other rules of the game:

  • There are no legal ground rules in an interview: there is an implicit contract, but the reporter is not bound to follow it
  • Off the record: generally, don’t agree to talk off the record unless advised by PR or legal counsel
  • No comment: try not to revert to this; it makes a reporter feel you’re hiding something. You can say you would prefer not to comment on an issue because…if your” because” is believable. (Example – We don’t comment on lawsuits.”)
  • Prepublication approval: you do not have the right to approve a story before it’s published. Don’t ask reporters to do that; it will make them feel you’re afraid of something and may endanger the chances of getting your story placed
  • Pre-interview approval of questions: You also do not have the right to see a reporter’s questions before the interview although some reporters may not mind telling you what they are or may even ask you to draft them.

Check back for Part 2 next week when we’ll provide you with more great tips!