Soon it could be you. Or perhaps you've already had your taste of media exposure. How'd you go? Was it a success? Were you prepared? Or was it a disaster?
In this new series of blog posts, Media Tips For Bloggers, I will draw on my 15 years experience working in the media and, at times, call on others in the know to provide you with tips and tricks of the trade. Please let me know if there is a topic you'd like covered in the future.
Off The Record: Tips on being interviewed.
2) Always ask if the journalist can send you a list of questions. Same goes for asking for a draft of the story, if you are being interviewed for a newspaper. They will not always agree, but there's no harm in asking.
3) Preparation is key. Think about what the angle of the interview is and tailor your answers accordingly. Do your research. Short, to-the-point, responses are the key. Do not ramble. Less is more. This is particularly relevant if being interviewed for radio and television. Everything needs to be communicated in palatable "grabs" or information filled sentences. Write down a list of the key points you want to communicate and practice your responses. There's no second chances.
4) Nothing is off the record. Never share things with a reporter you do not want to see printed in an article or aired on television or replayed on the radio. No matter how lovely the journalist seems, you can never trust they will do the right thing. It is ok to say: "I'm sorry, but I am not going to answer that question" or "I don't know the answer to that question" or "That's an issue I'd prefer not to talk about".
5) If the interview heads off course and you suddenly get alarm bells, put a stop to it. Be polite, but firm. Let them know that was not what the agreed interview was meant to be about and that you'd rather not continue talking about the topic at this stage. Don't get grumpy or be rude, that will only inflame the situation and make it seem like you have something to hide. Just take back control.
6) Be interesting. It's fine not to share your secrets or talk nastily about others or give away the tricks of your trade, but remember if you say nothing at all, you run the risk of being boring. Be calculated about you talk about. This is where number 3 is really important - preparation is key. Have something to say which will add to the discussion.
7) Always be accessible, on time and professional. Journalists work under tight deadlines and if you are easy to work with, they'll keep you in mind for other stories. Let them know your areas of expertise and your willingness to be called upon in the future.
8) Shake away your nerves and have fun. If you don't enjoy the experience, don't do it again. Life is too short for doing things you don't enjoy, but it's also too short to not do things that challenge you. The butterflies in your belly, the nerves, the thrill - it's all part of the experience. Embrace it. And remember it is simply a conversation between you and another person, it's not meant to be hard work.
Have you ever been interviewed before? Do you have any tips to add?