Like a game of football, there are two sides to every media interview.
On Team A we have ‘the journalist’. Let’s call her Jenny. Jenny changes her game plan all the time. Sometimes she’s nice and passes the ball gently to Team B (that’s you). Sometimes she’s unreasonably aggressive and knocks you flat on your backside en route to the goal posts. Jenny’s boss is on the sideline, yelling ideas at her and urging her to remember her audience who are stuffing their faces in stands 1-7.
On Team B we have you. All you want is for Jenny to make you and your business, charity, or not-for-profit look good. You’re not asking for much, are you?
It all depends on which version of Jenny you get. Again, it comes down to controlling what you can and having a Game Plan.
Once you’ve found out what the journalist wants to get out of the interview, get your aim straight in your mind. Ask yourself:
- What do you want to happen as a result of the interview, and what do you want people to think, feel or do? i.e. What is your call to action?
- Who is going to be reading, listening or watching the interview and which of these people do you want to influence?
Based on these aims, you should be able to break what you have to say into 3-5 short key messages which you’ll repeat throughout the interview. Make yourself familiar with these points – they’ll form the core of your responses, but should be backed up with evidence.
A good answer to a question contains a key message (the basic point you want to get across), a reason (some background information confirming why your key message is accurate/relevant), and evidence (a statistic, fact or anecdote that backs up your key message).
Consider the following scenario:
– You run a not-for-profit organisation called Lollies For Everyone that distributes free lollies to people in the CBD to make people happy (I wish!) The Daily Telegraph wants to do a ‘feel good’ interview with you on local charities.
– Your aim is to get people to go to your website, read about the organisation and ideally make a donation.
– Of the people reading it, you want to influence people aged 25-45 who are professionals and most likely to have seen you operating in the CBD.
– Your call to action will be for people to go to LolliesForEveryone.com.au and to consider making a donation.
Your key messages are going to be:
- Lollies For Everyone distributes lollies to people in the CBD to make people happy and to show that there are still nice people in the world who do kind things.
- Lollies For Everyone doesn’t make a big difference to any one person, but it does make a little difference to a lot of people every day.
- Lollies for Everyone distributes lollies to between 100 and 1000 people each day, depending on how many donations it receives. People can make donations on LolliesForEveryone.com.au.
So, if ‘Jenny the Journalist’ asks you what the point of such an organisation is, you could say:
“Lollies For Everyone doesn’t make a big difference to any one person, but it does make a little difference to a lot of people every day (key message). It allows people to see that there are still nice people in the world who are doing kind things (reason). A recent poll on LolliesForEveryone.com.au (leading in to your call to action) indicates that recipients of free lollies are 50% happier for the remainder of the day and are much more likely to go out of their way to be kind to someone afterward (evidence).”
Jenny might also ask you why free lollies make people happy, or what difference such an organisation hopes to make, or a number of other similar questions. You can use the above key messages to frame your answers as often as relevant, and back them up with different facts, statistics or anecdotes so you don’t sound like a broken record.
You can insert your call to action in a subtle way at multiple points in the interview. For example, if asked how many lollies are given away a day or the difference your organisation makes, you could say:
“Lollies for Everyone distributes lollies to between 100 and 1000 people each day, depending on how many donations it receives. The more donations we receive on LolliesForEveryone.com.au, the more lollies and happiness we can give to busy people in the CBD.”
And don’t forget that what you say is just as important as how you say it. For guidance on how to give good media interviews, you can read our Media Interview Survival Guide.
Now, back to this lolly idea…