As journalism and broadcast professional spokesperson for five organisations, Pieter advises and coaches many clients on media interaction and interview skills. He compiled the Media Survival Kit on the do’s and don’ts of media interviews.
You are the expert – It’s part of your job, not a burden
An interview enables you to talk to thousands, even millions.
How long will this take you otherwise?
You are shaping the image of your organization
What is the topic? Who is the audience?
When? Where? How long?
give “off the record” comment
Is it live or recorded?
Which programme? Who is the presenter/host?
Who else is participating?
Is this a telephonic or studio interview?
Is this a phone-in, are you opening lines?
What is the angle of the programme?
Get all contact details – studio, producer
Accept short deadlines, notice
Learn the art of the “sound byte” (telling your story in a short elevator ride)
Avoid technical jargon and buzzwords. Keep it short and simple
Stay calm, focus and stay on message
Stay informed, be available
Answer the direct question first, then elaborate if necessary
Talk to the presenter, not the listeners (except in a relaxed interview)
Attack “the media”, “journalists”, or this journalist
Guess or speculate
Give “off the record” comment
Respond quickly, be available
Know your facts and stick to them
Use clear and simple language
Stick to your area of responsibility and expertise
Be courteous, professional. Do NOT get angry
Clarify the deadline, angle of the story
Keep commitments, meet deadlines
Offer to review a draft, but the journalist is not obliged to supply it
Correct factual errors only if the draft is sent to you – not the tone or style
If the topic is controversial or technical, respond by email
Apologies, sincerity are in order
In a crisis, stick to one spokesperson – tell the truth, tell it all, tell it fast