Often clients ask for a little ad-hoc media training before I take them to meet a journalist or before they are interviewed either over the phone or face to face.

Fortunately, it’s actually fairly easy to speak to journalists; particularly the trade press. While your perception might be that they are there to trip you up, they actually want you to succeed and be as interesting and eloquent as possible. If you do, they get a good interview, which is their objective.

So, you can approach the trade media feeling fairly relaxed. If it’s a national, broadcast or higher profile regional title then you will need to focus a little more on your messaging in order to get your key points across.

So, I thought I would make this Blog post and my next three into a mini-guide to how to meet the various challenges of media interviews; preparation, deciding what to say, handling difficult questions and post interview routine.

Today, I’ll look at what to do before the interview:

1, Check whether you are being interviewed for a news piece or a feature

2, Find out a little bit about the writer, is she experienced or greenhorn? Staff or freelance? Does she have a deadline?

3, Read something that the journalist in question has written recently. Not only will it prepare you for their style, but it will also allow you to refer to it in conversation. People like nothing more than flattery after all!

(But make sure the article you read isn’t a contributed piece by a PR that has been by-lined to the journalist for convenience. A good pointer will be if the story contains quotes from several different companies; normally this is a sign of journalist produced article.)

4, Make sure you understand your cornerstone message and your three ‘points of refuge’; or the three key points you want to get across; but more on that tomorrow.

In the meantime, just smile. It’s easy.

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