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The dos and don’ts of interviews with news editors

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The dos and don’ts of interviews with news editors

Our Spanish colleague Jorge López of Grupo Albión gives some tips on what to keep in mind while giving interviews and therefore how to build a good relationship with news editors:

When pitching your organization’s story to news editors, there are fundamental do’s and don’ts that you as a public relations professional should follow. Here are some useful tips about working with the media. Remember, the press is not your enemy!

Do:

  • Review message points before interview; keep handy for phone interview
  • Know your objective for the interview; make points concisely and early in conversation
  • Stay alert; listen closely to questions
  • Answer honestly
  • Think before responding
  • Speak clearly and slowly
  • Watch oral twitches (e.g. umms, uhhs, likes, you knows…)
  • Speak in language everyone will understand
  • Do ask reporter to clarify questions when necessary, or to repeat, rephrase, restate
  • Use verbal bridges to transition from negative or difficult questions to your messages
  • Avoid jargon, legalese, acronyms
  • Keep the big picture in mind; don’t bog down in operational or technical detail unless requested
  • Make your points and repeat them; illustrate with examples or specifics; summarize
  • Illustrate and substantiate messages with clear charts, graphs, anecdotes, etc., when possible
  • Invite clarification
  • Close when you’ve made your points; if a PR representative is on the phone, establish cues in advance to help terminate interview

Don’t:

  • Don’t get trapped into difficult questions or being defensive / combative
  • Don’t go off the record or say anything you wouldn’t want to see in print
  • Don’t answer a question you don’t want to or don’t understand
  • Don’t think you need to know everything
  • Don’t guess; do be sure
  • Don’t mire in statistics, numbers, data; but use to illustrate when compelling
  • Don’t joke
  • Don’t be promotional or overtly sales-like; instead be informative, educational
  • Don’t say “no comment” or “I won’t answer that.” Instead, answer your own way
  • Don’t comment on rumour and speculation or pending legal issues “as a matter of company policy”
  • Don’t ramble and risk saying something you’ll regret or lose reporter’s focus
  • Don’t forget to speak to the reporter’s audience
  • Don’t rush to fill silence
  • Don’t expect to see article before publication or review quotes

If you consider these tips your interview should turn out well for both, the interviewer and the interviewee.

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