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How to Prepare for Your First Big Interview

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As much as we, in the PR world, would like to believe that the media’s sole responsibility is to make our clients look good—well, that’s just not the case.

Understandably (and rightfully) so.

The media play an important role in our society. They are the fact-based, unbiased third party that provides our society with the information they need to make informed decisions—including whether or not said society should be buying your products.

So if you are fortunate enough to sit down with a member of the media for an interview, it’s incredibly important to arrive prepared with important facts and a compelling message. Formulate your main points ahead of time and practice often to ensure you sound calmer on the outside than you feel on the inside.

Remember: media is permanent. Whether it’s a television clip or a print article, it can forever be found and regurgitated in the general public, so be prepared to make statements you (and your company) can stand behind for years to come.

Here are just a few ways you can successfully prepare for your first interview:

  • Ask for questions in advance
  • Write down your top three “must cover” message points
  • Talk in soundbites—repeating part of the question, if possible.

Wondering what to wear? Remember this:

  • Avoid patterns
  • Simple is better
  • Bright colors look best. (Avoid white as it reflects light and can wash you out.)

Finally, these are my best tips for making it through the actual interview calmly and with poise:

  • Pause and breathe before you speak, as it gives you a moment to gather your thoughts
  • Be conversational and speak to the reporter like a professional colleague
  • Sit up straight (Your mother will appreciate it)

After the interview, thank the reporter for their time and let them know how to reach you. Be prepared for follow-up calls, where you’ll have further opportunity to expand on your message.

Lastly, remember that in all interviews, anything you say is “on the record.” (And you’re likely being recorded, so the reporter won’t conveniently forget anything.) Say what you mean, since sarcasm and subtleties don’t come across in print—or even on television, sometimes.

(That’s why comments are so often taken “out of context.”)

And don’t stress too much. If you’re passionate about your product (which you are) and you present your message honestly and directly (which you will), you’ll be just fine.


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