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Prepping for your print interview - 2/3/2015 -

Prepping for your print interview

Most of the time, we’re the ones conducting the interviews — but don’t be caught off guard if you end up on the other end of the discussion one day. Here’s how to prepare yourself — or your association CEO — for a print interview.

By Marsha Friedman

Getting media exposure for your association and the industry it serves can mean putting yourself out there. It might be chatting live on the air with a radio talk show host, taping an appearance for TV, or being interviewed by a print journalist.Some people enjoy print because they have more time to ponder their answers. But it makes others (me included) nervous. I worry about how the reporter will interpret my responses, and how they'll be sliced, diced, and repackaged for an article. However, there are things you can do to ensure your print interview goes well, that the reporter understands you, and you get your association or industry’s message across. Here are five tips:

1. Do not pitch, sell, or promote your association’s products or events. Yes, it may be the reason you're granting interviews, but if you want to sell something, buy an ad. The journalists are looking to you as someone with a particular expertise who can provide content for their readers. You may be adding another voice to a story with multiple viewpoints or sharing your personal or professional story. Either way, the goal of the journalist is to write an article that's useful, informative, and entertaining. Your goal is to get media exposure for your organization and to be recognized for your expertise in front of thousands of eyes.

2. Speak clearly and at a moderate pace. Whether the reporter is taking notes with a pen or a computer, it will be difficult for him or her to keep up if you get excited and start talking very quickly. Not only might he miss some of the brilliant things you have to say, but also he might misquote you in the story. Speak at a conversational speed, and if you really want to be a big help, offer to spell any less-than-obvious names you toss out. A good reporter will double-check spellings, but you'll save her time by giving a starting point.

3. You don't have to answer immediately, and you don't have to answer every question. Most of us would find it hard to respond off the top of our heads to: "What was the most pivotal moment of your life?" If you can't, don't. Ask the reporter to give you some time to think about it. By the same token, if you don't feel qualified to answer a question, it's far better to be honest about that than to take a stab at a response that makes you sound, um, unqualified. Remember, you're in control. No one will think less of you if you politely decline a question for which you have no answer.

4. Take your own notes before the interview. You likely have a good idea of what the reporter is writing about — and if you don't, it's perfectly acceptable to ask. That gives you time to prepare relevant comments or look up statistics or research. If they're looking for tips, list a few on paper in case you draw a blank. That will also help you plan ahead so you can speak concisely and get to the point quickly. Personal anecdotes always add color and interest to a story. Think about whether you've got a good short one that will illustrate your point.

5. Be prepared to email a high-resolution photo of yourself. Print publications cannot use the low-resolution photos that look so sharp online; the files are too small to reproduce at any decent size on paper. Most require an image that is 300 dpi (dots per inch). Keep one of yourself at the ready to send via email as soon as the interview is over. Not having it — or not knowing what a high-resolution photo is — could mean a missed opportunity to get your name, face, and organization in front of a big audience.

Sound easy? You're right, it is. So relax and enjoy your interview. Before you know it, a Google search of your name will produce dozens of publications quoting you and mentioning your association and the industry it serves. That may lead to even more requests, all of which build your personal profile, your association’s brand, and your audience.

Marsha Friedman is the founder of the pay-for-performance public relations firm EMS Incorporated.


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