100 Tips for Becoming a Rock Star with the Media

100 Tips for Becoming a Rock Star with the Media

100 Tips for Becoming a Rock Star with the Media

This is a great resource for anyone who has participated in or facilitated a media interview.  It’s broken down into three sections providing tips on what to do before, during and after an interview. These tips have been compiled from experience and from conversations with other PR pros.

What to do before a media interview?

  1. Attend a media training session (or sessions)
  2. Remember that the reporter is not your audience. The reporter is merely a conduit through which you can deliver your message to key stakeholders.
  3. Research. Research. Research.
  4. For non-television interviews, always ask if your conversation is being recorded.
  5. To avoid being misquoted, bring your own voice recorder.
  6. If you are nervous in front of the camera (or a lot of people), ask for a closed set.
  7. Never lie.
  8. If you’re a good ‘get’ for the media or your product/service is getting a lot of press, be very careful about what you post on Facebook or Twitter as it can (and will) be used in news stories.
  9. If you can meet with the reporter before your interview, do it!
  10. Anticipate the second day story and ask about the possibility of being included in both.
  11. Assume nothing.
  12. If you’re doing an interview via satellite make sure your background is clean and your logo (if applicable) is visible.
  13. Prepare talking points in advance, especially if you’re speaking on a complex issue.
  14. Practice in advance.
  15. Anticipate possible questions.
  16. Prepare for worst case scenarios.
  17. Focus.
  18. If possible, ask for questions to be submitted in advance.
  19. Tell the reporter about any off-limit topics. Don’t wait until the middle of the itnerview.
  20. Remind yourself that this is a conversation. Not an interrogation.
  21. Eat a light meal before you go on-air. You don’t want to pass out or throw-up.
  22. Smile.
  23. Think about what you want to accomplish with the interview. Prepare accordingly.
  24. Know your/your reporter’s audience and tailor your messages accordingly.
  25. Stand while doing phone interviews as it will allow you to keep focus and it will help you project.
  26. Read/watch a reporter’s last three relevant stories as they may be used as a reference during your interview.
  27. Monitor trends within your industry as these may be reference as well.
  28. Be on time.
  29. Get a good night’s rest.
  30. Respect deadlines.
  31. Don’t be a snob. There are plenty of other experts out there.
  32. Know what news is. What’s important to you/r business may not be important to the reporter’s audience.
  33. If you can’t put your message(s) on a post-it, they’re too long.
  34. If you’re going to appear on television, think about the style of the show/set when deciding on a wardrobe. Dress comfortably and figure out if you’ll be standing, sitting behind a table or sitting on a stool. Pick an outfit based on that. What to do during a media interview?
  35. Be open to the reporter’s questions. The only way the public will know your side of the story is if you tell it.
  36. Stick to three key messages, major ideas or facts. Get them in early.
  37. Stay on message.
  38. Answer the question(s) that you are asked.
  39. This is the era of the soundbite, so be concise. A good quote increases your chances for additional coverage.
  40. Be honest and straight forward.
  41. Be positive.
  42. If a reporter interrupts you before you finish your response, let them finish. And then continue your thought with, “As I was saying…”
  43. If a reporter continues to interrupt you, let them talk. Don’t run off with the interview.
  44. Ask for clarity if you don’t understand a question.
  45. Pay close attention to body language and signals. Respond appropriately.
  46. If a reporter asks several questions at once you should say, “You’ve asked several questions…let me respond to the first one.”
  47. Be friendly and smile when appropriate, keep in mind that if you’re on television you’re talking to a lot of people.
  48. Interviewers like colorful language and clear examples–but keep it simple and conversational.
  49. Avoid industry jargon, abbreviations and acronyms.
  50. Don’t let a reporter put words in your mouth. You can say, “Actually, I meant…” 
  51. Don’t repeat a reporter’s words or terminology unless it’s what you meant to say.
  52. Never repeat a reporter’s buzzwords unless you can do it to your advantage.
  53. Avoid saying “No comment.” Simply state that you can’t release the information in question and explain why.
  54. Understand that ‘off the record’ really doesn’t exist anymore. Anything you say or post online can- and probably will be used.
  55. Don’t feel obligated to accept the reporter’s facts and figures or to answer any of their hypothetical questions.
  56. Don’t guess. It’s okay to follow-up with additional information or to offer to direct the reporter to someone who knows the answer.
  57. Never lie.
  58. Don’t be afraid to pause or remain quiet while you think about your answer.
  59. Some silence is okay. Don’t feel pressured to fill the air as this is the moment, people usually slip up and say things that will later regret.
  60. Let the reporter lead the discussion.
  61. Breathe.
  62. Listen carefully.
  63. Body language is everything. On camera or off, sit up and lean slightly forward. Don’t swivel in your chair.
    When standing, don’t move or shuffle your feet or sway your body.
  64. Be an active participant.
  65. Be enthusiastic about your product or message. If you don’t care, why should anyone else?
  66. Don’t look directly at the camera or monitor. Focus on the interviewer.
  67. Speak a little bit louder than your normal conversational tone. Your facial expression and manner should match your topic. (Be careful about smiling during a crisis).
  68. Use full sentences, avoid one word answers.
  69. Be yourself.
  70. Speak with authority. You are the expert.
  71. Loosen up. It’s okay to laugh (when appropriate).
  72. If you’re doing a roundtable interview, don’t talk over the other guests. But, defend yourself if necessary.
  73. Control your temper.
  74. Think before you speak.
  75. Never use notes during a televised interview. If you’re conducting your interview over the phone, feel free to use them sparingly, but avoid sounding like you’re reading from a script.
  76. If you stutter or stumble over your words, ask if you can repeat your answer (this may be difficult during a live TV broadcast, but do it anyway).
  77. When talking to a reporter, avoid mentioning a competing newspaper or network.
  78. When in doubt, be quiet.
  79. Stick to the allotted time frame. Never ask the reporter for more time, let them ask you.
  80. Don’t say negative things about your competitors.
  81. Use different physical techniques to get your point across (ie. hand motions, raising/lowering your voice, etc).
  82. Don’t jump on anyone’s couch.
  83. Avoid using foul language on camera.
  84. Stay on topic. Don’t change the subject.
  85. Provide anecdotes on how your subject matter relates to the bigger picture. How does it affect the reporter’s audience?
  86. Back up your key messages with facts and examples.
  87. Provide the WIIFM or ‘whats in it for me?’
  88. Never exaggerate or provide misleading information.
  89. If you misstate the facts admit it immediately. You can say, “Sorry, I misspoke…”
  90. Use sarcasm sparingly as it hardly ever translate well to print.
  91. Don’t try to be creative. Focus on communicating your message.

    What to do after a media interview?

  92. If the camera is shooting you for b-roll footage, make sure you keep the same body language that you used during the interview.
  93. Plan for a reporter to ask if there’s anything else you’d like to mention. Use this time to reiterate your key messages, or add a relevant tidbit to the story.
  94. Ask the reporter to consider you as a source for future stories.
  95. If a story runs without your quotes, follow-up to see how you could have done a better at providing info.
  96. Understand that an interview doesn’t always guarantee a story. Stories get killed all the time.
  97. Reporters are at the mercy of their editors. As a result, your story may not appear for weeks.
  98. Make yourself available for follow-up questions (often at the last minute).
  99. Ask if you’re allowed to talk about the interview or share photos from set on social media.
  100. Always say thank you to everyone involved with making the interview happen.
  • imperfctconcept

    Great piece! I will be bookmarking this under my PR folder. Great information.

    • MissSuccess


  • @KelliannMc

    Very nice! Comprehensive.