Five essential tips for a successful media interview

- October 25, 2022 3 MIN READ

Media interviews can be nerve-wracking and feel way out of your wheelhouse as a business owner, but they are an essential PR tool to help build brand awareness and trust in your business. Samantha Dybac, CEO and founder at The PR Hub and host of the Influence Unlocked podcast, has five top tips to help you make your hard-earned media interview a success.

I write and speak often about the importance of founders and CEOs stepping up and being spokespeople for their brands or business. What I haven’t written so much about, until now, is actually what makes a good interview, or how to get through one with confidence.

Top tips for a successful media interview

Whether you’ve scheduled a call or in-person conversation with a journalist, you’re prepping for a podcast or radio interview, or have an opportunity to discuss your brand on TV, there are several effective ways to get the most of the opportunity.

To help you on your way, here are my top 5 tips for a successful media interview.

1. Do your homework

If you have the opportunity to speak on behalf of your business, don’t waste it. Find out as much as you can about the news outlet and journalist (or host) who will be interviewing you. Read past stories, listen to and watch previous interviews, and you’ll get a feel for their style and interests.

I always tell clients, ‘It only takes one’. It only takes one pair of eyes or ears to potentially change the course of your business. You never know who will hear or see your interview, which could lead to investment interest, or a new deal or brand partnership. That’s the power of PR, so be prepared.

2. Invest in media training

I can’t recommend investing in media training enough. Done well, it’s more than just a few breathing exercises and nerve-calming techniques, or pointers on where to look and when to smile. The right trainer will ensure you’re nailing your key messages when it counts, and help you feel more prepared if/when challenges arise.

I turned to media training as soon as I realised the important part I personally played in building awareness around and trust in my business, and did more training before launching my podcast, Influence Unlocked. It definitely forced me outside my comfort zone (including a few tears!) but ultimately, the skills I’ve taken away have been invaluable and generated more interviews, more speaking engagements, and more exposure for my business.

3. Show up!

Of course, there are going to be times when an emergency arises or something genuinely pulls you away and you have to decline or postpone. But turning up to a pre-scheduled interview is just showing common courtesy and professionalism.

Business is all about relationships and, notwithstanding exceptional circumstances, a last-minute cancellation can damage your personal reputation and brand, extending to your publicity team if you have one.

No one likes to be mucked around, and as there are so many moving parts and deadlines in the media, a last-minute no-show is hugely disruptive.

4. Dress for success

Read the brief. Don’t turn up and realise you’re under or overdressed. What you wear is about being authentic and staying true to your brand; good quality, crease-free basics, neat hair, and a good night’s sleep will ensure you’re looking your best.

If you’re on camera, consider investing in hair and makeup (or checking if it’s provided) to make the most of those harsh recording lights.

For phone interviews, be ready at least five minutes early, and make sure you’re somewhere quiet and distraction-free.

Same for Zoom or video interviews. Check your lighting (facing the light if possible), preferably in a carpeted room for better acoustics. Place your monitor at eye-level to avoid doing your interview staring down at your screen from a weird angle!

5. Practice, practice, practice

While there are a few people who will successfully ‘wing’ interviews, it’s not something I would ever recommend.

If possible, find out what’s going to be covered – I like to outline key messages and responses on paper and review them as much as possible in the days prior to an interview. I don’t memorise answers, but putting in this prep time certainly helps boost my confidence.

Conduct a mock interview with a trusted friend or colleague who will give you constructive feedback. Or, record yourself in front of the mirror at home and watch it back – confronting, but worth it! At The PR Hub we always spend time with our clients pre-interview so they feel supported when it comes time for the real thing.

Best of all, the media appreciate good ‘talent’, so if you do well you’re likely to be asked back again as the host or journalist knows they can rely on you to deliver.

Making sure you’re well prepared at every turn gives you the freedom to take full advantage of any media or speaking opportunity that comes your way. As long-time television presenter, in demand event MC, and The PR Hub’s consultant media trainer, Shelly Horton, always says (and I often remind clients): “Practice prevents piss poor performance!”

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