Prepping for Preliminary Interviews with Journalists – A Guide
Journalists and reporters are busy by nature. They are always searching for their next story, and businesses are always trying to get their attention to get coverage for their brand.
The relationship between brands and the media is tricky when it comes to earned media pickup. Journalists only want to write about businesses if there is a true story worthy of reporting present.
Sometimes, in an effort to feel out a story’s potential, a journalist will set up an interview over the phone or in person to see if the business is worth covering.
Would you be ready for this kind of interview?
If not, don’t worry – you aren’t alone. Many businesses are unsure as to how much information they should disclose in these types of interviews.
These interviews are considered to be preliminary. In other words, they are NOT the real thing. Because of this, there is still a need to leave some information under wraps in order to pique the interest of the journalist.
Here are three quick tips to guide you through this process to help make sure your story makes it to the next step.
1. Have Your Five W’s Ready
The Five W’s, Who, What, When, Where, & Why, are the most important parts of a story – any reputable journalist would know that these are must-have aspects that are required for their piece.
Before you go into a preliminary interview, be prepared to offer 1-2 sentence responses to these questions.
Who are the people behind your business? What does your business do? When do you work, or when did you begin working in this industry? Where are you located, and where do you offer services? Why does the firm exist, why do you do the work you do?
There are other variations of these questions, so try out different angles and try your best to have short and concise answers prepared for each of them. It’s a great way to start the preparation process.
2. Hook ’em
There needs to be an angle to your story that the journalist can run with for their piece on your business. Ask yourself, why is this story newsworthy?
It’s not just a new product launch, it’s the launch of a product that is the first of its kind! It can do something that the industry has been searching for, and its the first one on the market to be able to do that thing.
You didn’t just hire a new CEO, you appointed a new leader who has a new mission for the company. His/her prior experience is perfect for this role because … (so on and so forth).
The firm’s partnership with company XYZ alone isn’t what’s exciting – it’s what this partnership will produce that could mean something to the reporter that is interviewing you.
Often, the story is about you, but the angle is about what you can do.
3. Less is More
Yes, you need to prepare for the 5 W’s. Yes, you need to have an interesting angle ready to present to the journalist during the interview. But do you tell them everything? NO!
You need to leave the journalist with just enough information so that they can develop a vision for a story, but don’t overload them with details.
Leave a little on the table – almost like a cliffhanger. Invite the journalist to your place of business (if applicable) to show them how your company operates as well as why your are newsworthy in some way.
If you say too much too soon, the journalist might make the call on your business’s newsworthiness right then and there. Allow them the opportunity to mull it over.
Keep them interested and coming back for more as much as you possibly can.