A weblog by Jon Silk, Client Services Director at LEWIS PR. (Contact / Subscribe)

Go to: pic-o-matic / 360 / TWL / Arthur / B / Sturgeon / Scoble / gapingvoid

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Good interviewing: the quest for repeat business

A little exchange I had with Matthew Stibbe from the Bad Language blog discussing interview technique got me thinking about the things that make someone a good corporate spokesperson.

Specifically, I started to think about my own media training. When I run sessions I generally don't try and teach people to trot out the corporate messages. My goal is simple: I want people to find their way into journalists' contact books and stay there.

Becoming a journalist's trusted contact is a win/win - the journalist gets a reliable source of information, and the spokesperson gets tapped over and over again for comment. Beautiful.

Here are my top ten tips for budding interviewees looking for repeat business as a media spokesperson...

1. Don't just trot out corporate messaging. Be engaged enough in your subject to have an opinion.
2. Be available. Don't wait to call back once you've planned what you're going to say. The journalist's deadline is coming up and they'll contact someone else if you're not around.
3. Be prepared to speak without your PR (and make sure your PR is OK with it). A good PR person will ensure you're OK to 'fly solo' and support via email where necessary.
4. Don't comment on everything. Just because the journalist writes for a target publication doesn't mean they'll be writing about something you know anything about.
5. Give out your mobile number. Not the switchboard number, your secretary's direct line, or your message service.
6. Read. If a journalist calls you and you are knowledgeable about their publication, it makes you sound more credible.
7. Give out some personal details. Having something in common with the journalist (football / golf / early 80s electro-funk) makes you a more attractive prospect to call.
8. Don't go too far. Straying into slander just makes you sound naive - have an opinion but don't get unprofessional about your competitors.
9. Be wary of soundbites. Short, punchy phrasing is good for a journalist to chop up and use. Rambling or rhyming couplets are best avoided. (And don't fill silences with rubbish.)
10. Follow up. Drop the journalist an email to thank them for their time and send them any additional information you promised during the call.

And a bonus tip:
11. Have fun. This is a budding friendship, not a chore!

No comments: