Media Training – Advice for Interviews with Journalists

By Mark Macias

In business, you need to know your customer to succeed. The more you know where they are, what they want, their pain points, the more success you will have with business development. It’s no different when speaking with the media. You will have more success with the message if you understand their targeted audience.

I’m usually on the call with every client as they speak with reporters or TV producers about their story. I always brief my clients on the type of reporter they are speaking with, which will impact their messaging.

For example, if you’re speaking with a consumer TV producer, you won’t want to go in-depth. You want to keep the message focused around the consumer and how it helps them. You don’t want to do a deep dive into the details unless the reporter asks.

Interview Advice for Producers and Reporters

As a former news producer, I can tell you no producer or TV reporter wants to spend 20 minutes logging an interview, looking for great sound. This is why it’s important to start the TV interview with the most important talking point you want to convey. If your goal is to communicate a new pricing plan, start with the information on that pricing plan. It won’t get lost.

With print reporters, which includes online reporters, you need to emphasize your key points. Most of these reporters will be taking notes and if you’re speaking faster than their note-taking, you need to make sure they don’t miss your key narrative.

And remember, many reporters – especially more inexperienced journalists – will be hesitant to interrupt you while you are speaking. Make sure you give them a chance to ask questions. Pause, and observe their body language. Do they look confused or do they look like they’re excited about what you’re saying. Reporters won’t mislead you with their body language.

When I would interview CEOs during my time as a journalist, if they gave great sound on video, I made sure they knew it. It reinforced that sound and usually led to even better sound.

Macias PR was named the 2016 “Financial PR Firm of the Year – USA” and the 2015 “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. We have launched and led media campaigns for clients in healthcare, finance, tech and the nonprofit sectors. The founder of Macias PR – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with CNBC, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice on timely business topics.