By: Scott Emerine

For the past twenty years I have experienced interviews from both sides of the table.  As a journalist, I found unique ways to set people at ease in order to obtain information that made for a compelling story.  As a public relations executive, I have helped CEOs, managers and sales men and women overcome their fears of being interviewed.

Despite the many cliché scenarios, most journalist are simply trying to tell a great story.  In the corporate world there are not as many investigative journalists trying to stir up controversy and conspiracies.  Most journalist long to inform readers or viewers about great companies and great people, but companies fail to tell their stories properly.

This can be easy to do by avoiding some pitfalls and following some simple rules.  One of the first mistakes of being interviewed is talking about subject matter that is not on point or pertinent to the story.  Don’t speak about things you have no reference to or that do not pertain to your story.  This can easily dilute your message.  Secondly, make sure what you talk about speaks to the emotions.  Interviews are not sales pitches.  Most stories involve a human-interest aspect.  If the story is about a product or service you still make it relevant by keeping it about the end-user.  Speak to benefits not the functionality.

Another lesson is that you do not have to be Omnipotent.  If you do not have the answer to something, do not feel obligated to give an answer.  Be honest, and be truthful in all your answers.  This is the easiest way to avoid issues.  If you do not have the answer you can get back to the journalists. As Mark Twain once said, “If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember anything.”

Lastly, you should not only know the background of who is interviewing you, but also the outlet that is interviewing you.  Do your own research.  Read or view their last articles and stories. This lets you see their style of writing and even his or her way of questioning. Find out if they have an angle or a specific reason for conducting the interview.  The more research you do, the better your interview will go. You can also set the member of the media at ease when you not only know about them, but about their outlet and what they are trying to accomplish.

At Branding Iron we conduct media training seminars, handle media relations and educate companies on being ready for interviews.  To find out more, email scott@brandingiron.com