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5 Keys to Giving a Good Interview
By Marc Prosser, Fit Small Business
The opportunity to meet with a reporter can catapult you and your small business to the next level. The following five steps will help you during that interview process.
- Know The Background Of The Reporter
- Ask What The Reporter Would Like To Discuss
- Confirm That You Will Be Able To Review Any Direct Quotes Used
- Have Someone Else Listen In To Conversation
- Follow-up With The Reporter After The Interview
Reporters Have A History That Is Very Public
You should know the history of the reporter before you give an interview. By doing a Google search, you will be able to find out where the reporter has previously worked, and a few of the articles which he or she has written. By going to the publication’s website, you should be able to access a number of the articles which they have written.
You should be able to tell the following from this research:
- Does the reporter try to provide a balanced perspective or are the articles from a particular viewpoint?
- Has the reporter covered your industry in previous articles? Does he or she have a “stance” on key issues impacting the industry?
- Do the subjects of the reporter’s articles end up looking positive or negative?
- Will the article contain links back to firms which the reporter mentions?
Not all publicity is good publicity. You might want to decline the interview, if based on the reporter’s previous history, you think the article will be critical of the company. While there is some risk that the article will be written anyway, it’s much harder to gather information without a company’s help.
Ask What The Reporter Would Like To Discuss Ahead Of Time
I recommend asking what the reporter would like to discuss prior to the interview. The request can be phrased in the following way, “I would like to make sure that I have the necessary information to do a good job answering your questions. It would be very helpful if you could provide me with the questions that you expect you will be asking, prior to the interview.”
Some reporters will provide you questions and others will only give you a general sense of the subject matter of the article. When they are willing to share questions ahead of time, you will have a chance to prepare. If they don’t want to share or give you a clear sense of the subject matter of the interview, you should be aware that the interview might not be friendly.
Confirm That You Will Be Able To Review Any Direct Quotes Used
Don’t expect to be able to see an article prior to publication. However, a fairly common request which may be granted is to see any direct quotes from your interview that reporter plans to use. Some reporters might show your direct quotes if you ask them ahead of time, but will not give you an opportunity to review them. Giving you a chance to see quotes and provide corrections means more work for the reporter (even though it leads to a better story).
Have Someone Else Listen In On The Conversation
As the publisher of several publications including Fit Small Business, I have had an opportunity to interview CEOs and key people of many well-known companies. Frequently, there will be another person listening in on the conversation. Generally speaking, the person will introduce themselves at the beginning of the call and simply listen to the interview, except at the end. The listener serves a few purposes:
- To have an objective listener (that can provide post-interview feedback).
- To write down any requests from the reporters or questions that go unanswered.
- To end the interview (when it goes beyond the allotted time) or because it’s going very poorly (for example, the reporter starts asking difficult questions on a subject that was not agreed upon prior to the interview).
Follow-up With The Reporter After The Interview
During the interview, there may be some facts or information that the reporter wants that is not immediately accessible. As soon as you can, it’s good to follow-up with the information. Also, it’s good to thank the reporter for the opportunity and find out if the reporter has any unanswered questions.
Want to read more about public relations from Marc Prosser?
About The Author - Marc Prosser has many years of experience in the field of press relations, from both sides of the table. Currently, he serves as the publisher of Fit Small Business and frequently interviews leading figures in the small business space. Previously, he served as the Chief Marketing Officer of a company that provided currency brokerage services.
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