For many who have never interacted with the media, fear of the media is typically motivated by a sense of loss of control over the process and suspicions about the reporter’s motivations for conducting the interview. Is it likely that I will be able to respond to the reporter’s questions? How will I know the reporter will not malign me?
Reporters, of course, are aware that many of their interview subjects will react in this manner, and the good ones will do everything possible to reassure their subjects. Reporters, on the other hand, tend to believe that the majority of people’s fears about the media are unfounded. Facts often don’t speak for themselves, and interviewees can look foolish, incompetent, or worse even when the reporter didn’t mean to.
The purpose of media training is to teach you how to serve both the reporters’ and your own interests honestly, accurately, and confidently. Media interview training Melbourne teaches interviewees how to use the control they often don’t know they have over the process.
The novice interviewee must first understand that he or she is far more at risk from a reporter who does not understand than from a reporter who is out to get you. The vast majority of reporters are motivated by a desire, to tell the truth. If they work for a major news organisation, they must adhere to certain standards and are held accountable by their superiors. That is not to say that reporters do not make errors from time to time. That is, if they are a professional, they have an interest in doing things correctly and valuing their reputations. That means you must focus your efforts on informing them of the information they require to do the job correctly. Keep the following basic rules in mind when conducting media interviews:
Never tell a reporter a lie. That is not to say you must tell everything, explain everything, and reveal everything. This means you must always maintain your credibility by ensuring the veracity of your statements. Additionally, it eliminates the need to correct statements later.
Reporters seek to tell a story that others can relate to, or at the very least identify with. Consider in advance the main points you want to make to a reporter and how you want to make them. This is referred to as “messaging,” and it is a critical component of any interaction with a journalist.
Think about why you’re being interviewed
You are unlikely to be speaking with a reporter solely to provide raw data. More than likely, you’re there to provide context. As an expert, an observer, or a participant, you should focus on the big picture of the issue or event.
Less is more
When speaking with reporters, it’s critical to get to the point quickly and be as quotable as possible. After you’re certain you’ve delivered your message, provide supporting data, facts, and backup information. Make your message as accessible as possible to the widest possible audience (no jargon, slang, or “inside language”), and if you tell a story, make it succinct and to the point.
It takes time to develop a sense of comfort with developing messages, distilling them down to a few well-spoken statements, and remaining on message through questions. The more you practice, the more proficient you will become. No matter which reporter you speak with, whether trade, local, regional, or national, print or broadcast, the process of determining who you are speaking with, why you are speaking with them, and what you want to say is the same.
Media interviews should be a two-way street. The media receives information, perspective, an engaging story, or point of view, and you gain access to the audience that watches and listens to that segment of the media. Therefore, provide reporters with what they seek—access, credible quotes, and information—and you will be rewarded with access to their audiences. Allow your lack of experience to serve as an impediment to engaging with the media and the public you wish to reach.