How to Master a Media Interview: Top Tips for Media Interview Preparation
January 25, 2018
Boost your media interview success with tricks of the trade
In a media interview, you have a message to get out, and reporters have a story to write. Your goal is to make sure the reporters tell your story accurately.
But how can you get reporters to pay careful attention to what you’re saying during a media interview?
How to Prepare for Media Interviews – 5 tips
As your company representative, you become its face and voice – the reputation of your company is now in your hands. Understanding how to handle the media is an essential skill that every executive should develop. Media training is a core management skill.
If you let the journalist to control the interview, they will get the story they want, not the story you want to tell.
Preparation is key.
The following 5 tips will help you become a confident and impressive interviewee:
Media Interview Tip 1 – Know your story
Prepare exactly what you want to say and understand how to make it newsworthy. Have good anecdotes as backup
Prepare for media interviews Tip 2 – Keep it simple
Translate detail and complexity into clear easy-to-grasp ideas that are right for this audience
Media Interview Tip 3 – Control the interview
A good interview is not a Q&A session. Learn how to stay in charge and move to your agenda
Media Interview Tip 4 – Expect the unexpected
Practise handling difficult and trick questions
Media Interview Tip 5 – Look like a professional
Even when not on TV, the more you rehearse, the more sincere you will look. Media interviews can be full of pitfalls. That is why media training is essential: to make sure you’re prepared for every eventuality.
How to prepare for a media interview
Become a confident interviewee
During your interview, one badly phrased response, a lengthy hesitation or a flippant remark can bring disaster. That’s why media training is so important. For this reason, for over 10 years we have been supporting our clients for results-driven media training.
Through our tailored 1:1 and in-house media training courses, experts work with you to craft both your message and your performance. You will create a winning combination for any interview situation.
By taking a hands-on practical approach your confidence will soar and you’ll leave with new techniques that you can put in to practice straight away.
“…practical and results-orientated training…I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending their services.”
Gemma Godfrey, Fintech entrepreneur
How to Hook a Reporter’s Attention with Flagging
There’s a key interview technique you need. It’s called Flagging. You use specific “flagging” phrases to signal to the reporter what you’re about to say is important. Reporters don’t have time to listen to rambling. And they don’t have superhuman listening abilities. Even though they’re trained to listen better than the average person, they may struggle to focus attention on what you’re saying, just like anyone else.
They may tune out parts of the conversation, especially if it starts getting off track. They might also start thinking about their next question or get distracted by looking down at their notes. When that happens, you need to get their attention back. And that’s where flagging becomes an essential tool in your arsenal of media interviewing techniques.
What is Flagging?
Flagging is an interview technique that highlights the most important parts of your messages. Flagging uses key words and phrases to grab a reporter’s attention and hook them back into the conversation.
Some flagging phrases include:
- The most important thing for people to remember is . . .
- The bottom line is this . . .
- The most critical issue is . . .
- That’s a really important question. The answer is . . .
- This is our announcement in a nutshell.
You can also use:
- The best part is . . .
- The focus of the debate should be . . .
- At the end of the day . . .
- If you walk away with anything today, it should be this.
- First and foremost, . . .
- This is what we have to say . . .
- The key thing we’re focusing on right now is . . .
As you can see, most of these flagging phrases are common transitions that help redirect the conversation with your main points. They highlight the important details that reporters are looking for in a media interview.
Tips for Your Next Media Interview
Every media interview is unique in its own way: the reporters change, the topics change, and your own familiarity with the talking points may vary depending on the topic. It’s not easy to succeed in getting accurate and favorable press from a news outlet. That’s why flagging and other media preparation strategies are so crucial to learn.
1.. Using Flagging During Phone Interviews
Most of the time, you won’t be able to sit down with every reporter in person. Phone interviews are a good way to reach the most news outlets in the shortest amount of time and tell them the gist of the situation. But without non-verbal cues to help communicate your main points, it’s suddenly a lot harder to keep a reporter’s interest. That’s why verbal cues such as flagging are a must when conducting over-the-phone interviews. It’s helpful to write out notes to refer to during the phone call. Include flagging phrases in these notes if you’re not great at using them on the fly.
2. Sound Professional at Short Notice
Time isn’t always your ally when news breaks. Though you may have a written statement to follow, you want to sound as natural and prepared for the interview as possible. That’s why flagging can be a useful fallback when you need to draw in focus on the main points. It’s natural, conversational, and professional language that will make you sound like you know what’s going on.
Flagging also creates easy soundbites for reporters and media outlets to pull from and can make all the difference on building a strong reputation for your organization.
3. Take on Challenging and Negative Press
Not all media interviews are going to be in your best interest. But having a statement out there for the public can mitigate the damage or put a positive spin on the current state of affairs. Reporters love to deliver rapid-fire, hard-pressing questions that keep you on your toes. But if you take a deep breath and use flagging to redirect the conversation, then you stay in control of what they’re jotting down.
How to become a compelling media interviewee
The Most Successful Way to Bring Flagging into Your Media Interview Preparation
Flagging is a great communication technique to add to your repertoire, but it has to be used effectively to deliver the desired results. For starters, we recommend that you understand and clarify your key messages based on our how-to guide How to Prepare for a Media Interview.
If a question will address a key issue, make sure to use an appropriate flagging phrase to get the reporter’s attention. This is especially important on your first and final comments which have the most impact.
Learning More About Flagging and Other Media Interview Techniques
Media interviews are your best chance at reeling in the public. They cast a wide net, especially if you’re able to hook a big news platform. However, interviews can also make or break your personal and corporate reputation. You should never go unprepared!
That’s why it pays to have proper media interview preparation training from experienced trainers that know the ins and outs of the trade.
Our media trainers are all former journalists that have advised countless corporate clients in media preparation training. From FTSE100 CEOs, global corporates and top executives, we’ve helped them all learn the ropes for every type of media interview.
About Benjamin Ball Associates
At Benjamin Ball Associates, we help clients to communicate better.
Over the years the BBA team has coached thousands of senior executives globally to talk successfully to the media. You get access to a transformational toolbox of techniques to help you become a clear, confident communicator.
We’ll help you create a powerful first impression that hooks and engages your audience immediately and we’ll transform you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.
Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email email@example.com to find out more and discuss your upcoming media interviews.
How to achieve success with media training
Contact us for a chat about how we can help you with your presenting.
What leaders say about Benjamin Ball Associates
"Essential if you are going to be a spokesperson for your business"
Senior Analyst, Sloane Robinson
"Being an effective communicator is essential to get your stock ideas across. This course is exactly what's needed to help you do just that!"
CEO, Blast! Films
“Our investment in the coaching has paid for itself many times over.”
Corporate Finance House
“You address 95% of the issues in a quarter of the time of your competitor.”
“Good insight and a great toolbox to improve on my presentations and delivery of messages to not only boards, analysts and shareholders but to all audiences”
“We had a good story to tell, but you helped us deliver it more coherently and more positively.”
CEO, IPSO Ventures
“Ben did a great job on our presentation. He transformed an ordinary set of slides into a great presentation with a clear message. Would definitely use him again and recommend him highly.”
“Moved our presentation into a different league and undoubtedly improved the outcome and offer we received.”
Head of IR, Equinox
“A fantastic job reviewing and transforming our marketing material and helping us get our message across with clarity to potential investors.”