5 Tips for Being Interviewed by the Press

I was recently interviewed by my local magazine about the work I do with Special Moms Network and how I have transitioned from blogging to speaking at tech and mom conferences all around the country. Over the years I have learned quite a bit about doing interviews. I have appeared on television (everything but live interviews), radio, in magazines and newspapers around the world and have increasingly become better at interviews each time I complete one. Media outlets are using bloggers as sources for their pieces more and more these days, so always be prepared to get an email about your interest and availability to be interviewed.

Here are my top five tips for being interviewed

Tip #1: Never, ever be nervous! I know that is easy to say, but after having been interviewed at least a hundred times I have learned that it is a waste of time and energy to be unduly nervous.

When I first started doing interviews I was always palms-sweaty nervous. My voice was always shaky and my heart pounded uncontrollably like I was going for the Gold in the Olympics.

Here’s what I learned: Being nervous will hurt you in interviews. Be confident and authoritative and more interviews will come your way.

Tip #2: Be interested in the story. If you are going to be interviewed by the media make sure the story pertains to you. I turn down media requests all of the time because the story is not relevant to me. Sure, I could fudge it to get another press mention but do I really want to do that? Being interviewed about crafts, for example, when clearly I am not crafty is a reach!

Tip #3: Always be on time for your interview. No matter if your interview is scheduled in person, on the phone, via Skype or whatever, always be on time! Journalists are generally on deadline, so time is of the essence. If you are late or cancel your interview you risk the chance of losing your opportunity to be interviewed.

Tip #4: I recently heard someone say, “I don’t answer questions. I handle them.” So brilliant! When you are being interviewed by the press you don’t have to answer every single question and you can answer in the way you wish. I’ve had a couple of journalists ask me how much I make as a blogger and I always divert that question elsewhere. Is anyone asking them how much they make?

Tip #5: Always practice your talking points. Know what you’re going to say before you start the interview. If you need to do a bit of research to get stats and facts correct make sure you do that. If you have to write down your bullet points, be sure to do that as well. Make sure to keep your points short and succinct. Also be clear about your points so they are easy to convey to the journalist.

Getting interviewed by the press gives you an added level of credibility especially as you grow your blog. Be professional and prepared and once you land your first interview you will land many others.

Some additional tips

1. Ask “What is the focus of your Story?” and “What is the angle?” It may help you from being surprised that the story isn’t “positive” as you see it. Plus, it also will help you focus your own answers.

2. Feel free to send an email later, after the interview, to clear up any thoughts or give a clearer quote. But, don’t try to do the whole interview/conversation over again. Keep it brief because by then, deadline looms and you don’t want to look controlling or annoying!

3. You can request that your quotes get read back to you when the story is done. It may or may not happen, depending on the reporter and the deadline. I did it sometimes when I was a features writer and had a more generous deadline, but it is a personal policy and most reporters don’t want to do it. Doesn’t hurt to try. If it is a magazine interview, a fact-checker likely will call later though.

4. When the story publishes, hand write a note of Thank You. Means way more than an email and helps you stand out. Offer to become a source for other stories, or direct the reporter to other people for interviews and help.

5. Most importantly: Become a Source. Now that you have the reporter’s ear and email and phone number, send her tips, suggestions, interesting link in the area they cover. Suggest stories that are newsy and on trend, suggest great people who give great interviews. And, for the most part, these tips can’t be about you.

I cannot stress enough to pass on the interview if you are not the right fit. Nothing is worse than having someone try to fit into a story when they clearly don’t. Wastes the reporter’s time, and likely only serves to ban you from future stories. Instead, offer to help find sources that are a better fit. Refer your friends.

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