Media interviews are a priceless opportunity to get the word out about your business. One well-placed article, blog post or radio show filled with your pithy quotes can quickly spread the news about you and your company to thousands of readers or listeners.
But not everyone is comfortable with the press, and too many small-business owners mishandle such opportunities. Make the most of the chance to share your knowledge and promote yourself and your business by keeping the following six steps in mind for giving a great press interview.
1. Thoroughly Prepare
Given the fact that everything you say in a media interview can, and may, be shared by the journalist for posterity, it’s important to make sure you are completely prepared. If possible, ask for interview questions ahead of time.
Familiarize yourself with the show and host or reporter and publication, says author, teacher and speaker Dr. Kevin Ross Emery, an expert in the ADD/HD field who has done hundreds of radio interviews and hosted his own show for three years.
“Find out key information such as the focus of the show or the content of the publication,” he says. “What are the demographics? Why are they choosing to interview you? It’s equally important to be prepared physically and emotionally for the interview. Don’t just jump on the call or pull into the radio station five minutes beforehand. Have time to center, have water and make sure you’ve eaten within a reasonable time prior to the interview.”
Even if you're not prepping for an interview, you need to be ready to toot your own horn when the opportunity presents itself. Create a 20-second sound bite that succinctly describes what your company does and how good your company is at what it does. Be prepared to effortlessly share your mini commercial.
2. Effectively Market Your Business
Most media people are willing to help you promote your business when appropriate. The key to getting the word out about your company is to know what to say and when, says Merilee Kern, owner of the PR agency Kern Communications. She has been an interview subject and has facilitated hundreds of online, print and TV interviews for clients.
“If the interview is about a topic synergistic to your expertise, but not about your business itself, do not answer with self-promotional information about your company, product or service—as tempting as that may be to parlay more 'publicity value' from the effort and exposure,” Kern advises. “Unless the journalist expressly asks about your business, keep the conversation on the topic at hand and strive to provide insights that represent your unique point of view. Aim to share new information, such as contrary viewpoints on the topic. This will add dimension to the interview and spur a deeper conversation with the journalist, often leading to more coverage for you in the piece.”
3. Show Your Passion
Explain why your business is so exciting to you, says David Roddenberry, who has done many media interviews. He is cofounder of HealthyWage, a company that organizes weight loss contests.
“You have poured blood, sweat and tears into getting your business going,” he says. “Share with the interviewer why, for instance, you gave up a stable career and took enormous risks to start your business. The reporter will pick up on your passion and excitement, and it will spill over into the article.”
4. Stress Facts
Opinions are much more effective and credible when bolstered by facts, figures and study findings. “Add value to the article, blog, radio or television interview by citing topic-relevant data points from reliable and trustworthy sources,” Kern says.
Journalists also find it helpful if you supply them with relevant sources of information to provide context, such as industry organizations and academic studies, Roddenberry says. “As a small-business owner, you know your market,” he says. “Make it easy for reporters to get up to speed by connecting them quickly with appropriate sources.”
5. Embellish With Anecdotes
Liven things up by adding some color to your interview with real-life anecdotes. “If you've had a direct, personal experience of particular interest where a clear and germane lesson of some sort was learned, do share the story with the journalist,” Kern says.
6. Offer Supplemental Materials
The end of the interview for a print publication is the appropriate time to ask the journalist if he or she would like any additional information about you and your business, such as a bio, company backgrounder, head shot photo or other press kit resources that can help educate the journalist about your business and expertise and keep you as the top-of-mind expert source for suitable assignments, Kern says.
Most radio show hosts will give you a few seconds at the end of the show to share company information, such as your website.
Now that you know the key steps to interview success, you’ll be ready when someone from the media calls.
Read more articles about marketing.
A freelancer since 1985, Julie Bawden-Davis has written for many publications, including Entrepreneur, Better Homes & Gardens and Family Circle.