Are You Making This Basic Media Interview Mistake?

Small microphone

© Marc Dietrich |

You’re flattered when a reporter calls to ask your help with an article or TV report. It’s an acknowledgement of your industry or subject-matter expertise.

Perhaps you’re looking forward to the boost to your business or career the media interview may bring.

You know that being helpful and co-operative can showcase your professionalism and position your company well. 

Basic mistake
But if you approach the interview simply as a question and answer session, you may be overlooking the real opportunity that such an invitation presents. This tactical view is the fundamental error many new to the media interview game make.

In fact, you can be responsive to the reporter’s need for news and great quotes while at the same time making the experience a win for you and your company.

Preparation is key
Before committing to a media interview, you must take time to prepare thoroughly. Even if the reporter is on deadline, it’s important to reflect on what you want to accomplish. In the best cases, winging media interviews leads to missed opportunities. In the worst, it can create PR problems for you and your organization.

Before the interview:

  • Determine your objective. Imagine the final article or story. What is the headline? What is the best outcome for your organization?
  • Envision your audience. Who are they and what information will be of interest to them?
  • Develop two or three core messages. These are concepts that will resonate with your audience.
  • Practice. Spend some time doing mock interviews with your PR advisor in advance. And go beyond the tough questions. Many a seasoned executive has masterfully handled a variety of hard questions only to be thrown when asked to describe the business he is in.

Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State, excelled at pre-interview preparation. Once he entered a press conference and joked to the media representatives present, “What questions do you have for my answers today?”

With practice and preparation, you, too, can be a polished interviewee while advancing your organization’s goals and positioning it for success.

What other preparatory steps have you found helpful before participating in a media interview?

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Photo via Dreamstime.

About creativeconsiderations

Christine Sullivan is a communications strategist with expertise in communications planning, writing and content development, and executive communications. She can be reached at
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