Working as a marketing and PR person in the Cotswolds, I spend my time promoting my clients. Whether writing copy for a leaflet about a new product; on social media tweeting from the rooftops about a forthcoming event or selling-in a story to journalists, my aim is to ensure that my clients are the first you think of when you need the service they are providing.
Can we interview you?
Often this is an active process but just occasionally an invitation is presented to us and gratefully accepted. For example, this week a client was approached to give a radio interview at short notice. Any business should be prepared for this kind of opportunity and yes, though it might be nerve-wracking, it IS an opportunity to raise the profile of the business or organisation you work in. Remember that it’s in the interests of the journalist to ensure you sound interesting – after all, they chose to interview you!
Ideally you should know your key messages inside out and be able to respond right away. But it can happen that the journalist wants an unusual angle, or to speak to someone who is relatively lacking in confidence, and then it doesn’t hurt to have a quick refresher session.
This week I had the pleasure of helping a local expert prepare for a radio interview and a set of speaking engagements. As a former teacher myself, there is still a thrill in imparting knowledge that others find useful or stimulating. In this case, my pupil was a willing learner, which is something classroom teachers dream of and are sometimes lucky enough to experience. My reward was immediate: the joy of listening to her stories and anecdotes.
So what should you do if a journalist contacts you for an interview?
- Ask questions: what is the subject? Is it a recorded interview? Where will the interview take place?
- Try to anticipate what might be asked and think of possible answers, including lively anecdotes you can include to entertain the listener/ viewer/ reader
- Thoroughly prepare the messages you want to get across about your business
- Learn to how to bring the conversation round from the interviewer’s question to your messages. This is the hardest part but there are strategies to help
- Practise! Write some prompts and repeat your messages til you know them by heart and can speak up confidently
- Try to anticipate any negative issues that might arise. Usually there are positives to be gained from these
- Don’t be afraid to mention something important if none of the questions refer to it. Maybe the journalist isn’t aware of your great new product or new opening hours.
Whether you are selling cookware, holding a festival or installing bathrooms, there are always great stories to tell about your business, so accept any opportunity that comes your way. You are the expert and this is your chance to get your name heard.
If you are part of a blue-chip organisation, your communications department should know of excellent media training organisations that can help you prepare and often these will include crisis management courses. Smaller businesses can also benefit from formal or informal training, which may be offered by local business support networks or Chambers of Commerce at reasonable rates.
I heard back from my client after the interview: it went well, she was pleased and now we can’t wait to hear her on the radio.