Media training helps you to convey clear messages in interviews and to give intelligible answers to journalists’ questions.
Westander’s media training provides knowledge about handling the media as well as media strategy. Our strong focus on practical training in front of the camera gives your spokesperson a sense of confidence.
We want media training to be both stimulating and enjoyable.
20 tips on interviews
Here are Westander’s 20 tips on interviews.
When the journalist calls
1. Make notes straight away
Ask for the name of the journalist, why he or she is calling and what the interview will be about.
2. Ask if you can call back
As a general rule, ask if you can call back within 15 minutes. This gives you the chance to gather your thoughts and to decide on a clear message. Always ensure that you call back within the promised time.
3. Are you the right person?
Based on the context, think about who is the most appropriate person to reply. An expert may not express himself or herself in simple terms to mainstream media, while the chairman or CEO may not have the detailed knowledge required for the specialist media.
Before a scheduled interview
4. Think about the target group
Remember that it is not the journalist who you want to get through to, but people such as decision-makers, customers, employees, members or shareholders. ‘The general public’ is not normally a specific enough target group.
5. Decide on your message
Decide what your main message is. You can take these questions as a starting point: What is the social problem? What is the solution? What is the concrete proposal?
6. Carry out a test interview
Ask a colleague to carry out a test interview, especially if the interview will be on radio or TV.
7. Choose a suitable location
Being ‘out in the real world’ can give a better picture than meeting at the office, especially in an environment that illustrates the theme of the interview.
8. Have an observer
Consider having someone with you to observe the interview. Afterwards, this person can give you feedback on what you did well and what could be done even better next time.
During the interview
9. Show what you are passionate about
Always begin with the main message. You should ideally return to your main message several times during the interview without repeating it word for word.
10. Do not become an ‘interview victim’
Tell the journalist during the small talk stage what you think needs to be said. See the questions as invitations to get your message across. It is your interview just as much as the journalist’s.
11. Talk simply
Talk slowly and simply so that the audience can keep up with your reasoning. This is particularly important during interviews on radio and TV, where your delivery is of great significance in terms of how the message comes across.
12. Do not overestimate prior knowledge
You will almost always know more about the subject than the journalist does. To be on the safe side, you should therefore explain any reasoning that could be misinterpreted and check that the journalist follows you.
13. Buy time
Sometimes it may feel as if you do not have any answers, or you may not even have taken in the question due to nerves. You can buy time by asking the journalist to repeat the question, or by asking “How do you mean?”.
14. Do a retake in recorded interviews
If you are not happy with an answer you have given in a recorded radio or TV interview, ask for a retake. Such a request will normally be respected, as long as you are not someone in a position of power who has given something away.
15. Avoid saying “No comment”
The phrase “No comment” creates a sense of distrust and the desire for further questions. Instead, explain why you cannot answer or ask if you can get back to the person asking the question.
16. Tell the truth, do not speculate
A lie is often uncovered, as is incorrect speculation. Only talk about things you know about and are certain of. Do not be afraid to say “I don’t know”.
17. Do not relax too soon
The interview is not over until you and the journalist have parted company, so do not speak off the record after recording has finished.
After the interview
18. Ask if you can read quotations
You can ask to read or hear the quotations that a press journalist is planning to use. Use this opportunity if it feels justified, but avoid changing the wording unless it is incorrect.
19. Avoid negative feedback
If the article contains factual errors or was slanted to your disadvantage, let a third party decide whether it is worth pointing this out to the journalist. The damage is usually less serious than you think.
20. Be proud, not complacent
Have reasonable expectations of yourself. Being interviewed by the media is an unusual situation for many people. Most people will need to practise repeatedly before they become a confident and clear spokesperson.
More from our PR Handbook
Target group analysis
Why public debate?A business that participates in public debate builds its brand, strengthens its corporate culture, deepens its customer relationships, identifies new business opportunities and becomes more attractive as an employer.
About WestanderWe do not compete on low price, but on high quality and satisfied clients. Over the past ten years, we have won more customer surveys than any other Swedish PR agency.
Other PR agenciesAre we the right PR partner for you? If not, you should contact another agency. By working with a PR agency, you can strengthen your communication with structure, drive and an external perspective.