Grow Your Reputation by Managing Media Interviews

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You are an expert in your field.  Unfortunately, this matters only when others are aware of the fact!   Managing media interviews effectively is one way you can position yourself as an authority in your field, grow your reputation, and grow your business.

A media interview can be a good way to reach prospects, clients, and other audiences that are most important to you.  Become adept at handling them well.

Granting an interview is your decision and certainly not an obligation.  Take time to review all the pros and cons of doing the interview, before you agree to be interviewed.

When you do choose to give the interview, use it as an opportunity to state your key message, and speak that message in the most positive way possible.

In order for the interview to be successful for you, maintain control of your input.  Here are a few things to remember:

  • The reporter’s questions, behavior and the presentation of the story are not within your control.
  • You can and must control your own input.
  • No matter what ground rules you believe you have established, remember that reporters will speak with other physicians and medical experts in your field.  Anything you say will be mentioned, even if it’s just for comment.
Here are some ways to respond to a reporter’s questions:

Do the following three things, no matter what:

  • Tell the truth.
  • Be courteous.
  • Respond to questions in a way that suits you, not necessarily the way the reporter wants.

You do NOT have to answer every question, but you DO need to respond to each question in some manner.

When reporters say that an interviewee did not answer a question, it means that he or she did not answer in the manner that the reporter had hoped.  An interview is not a conversation, so the norms for polite conversation do not apply.

Whenever necessary, repeat your key points; this increases the likelihood that your message will get into the reporter’s notes and the article.

  • Use nouns, not pronouns.  For example, always speak the name of your organization, hospital, or practice, instead of saying “we”.  Do this even if the reporter has just spoken the name of your organization.

An interview is not a court deposition!

  • Never respond to a question only by saying yes or no.
  • Don’t limit your response to the subject of the question; give yourself permission to say anything related that will further your key points.

The interview Ground Rules determine whether or not your statements and even your identity will be revealed.  The ground rules are not standardized; they are journalistic conventions, so always discuss them in advance of the interview.

  • Never say “that’s off the record”.
  • Everything you say IS on the record, unless you get the reporter’s agreement in advance about off the record information.
Be clear about three important phrases:

On-recordWhat you say can and will be attributed to you unless there is a prior agreement between you and the reporter.

On background/ Not for attribution:  This means that what you say can be used, but the comments cannot be attributed to YOU (to you name).  If you don’t want your name used, you must state in advance how you wish to be credited.  Some possibilities are:  “a source close to the organization”, “a spokesperson”, and “an informed source”.

Off the recordThis means that what you say cannot appear in print, but it can be used to find someone who WILL say those words on the record.  Therefore, if you don’t want certain words to appear in print, DO NOT SAY THEM.

If you want to be an anonymous or confidential source, discuss this in advance.

Reporters may reveal anonymous sources in some situation (a libel case, for example), but they will not reveal confidential sources under any circumstances.

Here are eight guidelines for your interview process:
  • Reporters are under no obligation to use your statements or to file a story.
  • The time you spend in the interview will not necessarily have any correlation to the length of a story that is finally printed.
  • Because reporters may not know how their piece is going to be written, they may not tell you how your comments will be used, or how much of them will be used.
  • After the interview, the reporter may have to change the focus of the story. Remember that an interview that seems fairly friendly may lead to a story that is actually critical in nature.
  • Reporters write the story; they don’t write headlines, choose photos, write photo captions, or decide where a story will appear.
  • Copy editors change the context of quotes, and this sometimes leads to quotes that seem distorted. The reporter has no role in this.
  • Most quotes are taken out of context. You may feel that words in print sound unfavorable because they were taken out of context.  Remember that this is always a case of HOW out of context your words appear.
  • Corrections rarely receive space and visibility that you would hope for. So, if you submit a correction to a publication, you may want to adjust the expectations that you have.

Manage your media interviews effectively; this will help you position yourself as an authority in your field, grow your reputation, and grow your business!

Copyright © 2013-2015 Maria Guida


Maria Guida  is an executive speaking coach/trainer, professional speaker, and Broadway actress.  With her experience on stage, TV and film (working with Paul Newman, James Earl Jones, and  Kevin Kline), she helps savvy executives in all industries enhance their credibility and generate business by speaking with poise, passion, and persuasive power.  Delighted clients include American Express, JPMorgan Chase, and Johnson & Johnson.  Maria travels extensively to deliver interactive and entertaining keynotes and workshops.  She can be reached at 718-884-2282 and maria@successfulspeakerinc.com; or visit www.successfulspeakerinc.com.

 


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