Media mentor tips

Do you plan your interviews?

What? No, I’m not talking about whether interviewers plan their interviews. Of course we do. I’m a journalist so I go into every press engagement with a clear idea of what I need to get out of it. This is based around my readers’ needs.

What surprises me is that so few interviewees do the same.

Interviews belong to you too

The fact is that journalists and other influencers are very good at making it feel as if an interview is their province exclusively.  To my mind this isn’t reasonable. The idea is simple enough; someone with a commercial interest (or a political one) is going to push their view onto everyone so the journalist’s role is to cut through this. The same is true of interviews with any other influencer – podcaster, blogger, whatever.

I have some sympathy with this view. Nobody wants to read, watch or listen to a bunch of vested interests. It’s definitely the job of the journalist to make sure their copy doesn’t reflect any of this.

There are powerful counter-arguments, though. Consider a media training client I had a few weeks ago. Nice people, helpful, non-pushy and specialists in their field. Now, I’m a specialist in several things. Publishing. Podcasting. Interviewing. Training. I am not, however, an expert in the client’s field (which was insurance as it happened but you could also slot in manufacturing, technology, any of those things). This could give me a problem.

That problem is that as a non-specialist I don’t necessarily have the right insight to ask something that will get to the piece of insight the reader really wants. I might but I might not. So it’s valid for the interviewee to squeeze their message in, whether I’ve asked about it or not.

It’s also valid (and journalists don’t always have the time to consider this) for the interviewee to look for some sort of value from the transaction. They’re offering their expertise and their time. As long as they’re not nakedly promotional it’s not unreasonable for them to expect their name and company to be correctly credited and for their view and comment to be made clear.

So do you take control of your interviews and ensure both parties come out with value? And if not, why not?

Do you need help ensuring you get value from media interviews? We can help – just get in contact and we’ll set us up a time to talk.

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