Go in under cooked and you’ll get grilled.
It’s as simple as that.
Anyone who thinks they can busk their way through a media interview is at best naive and at worst an idiot.
Actors warm their voices up before they go on stage, sportsmen and women, stretch and loosen their muscles before they compete.
They train. They prepare.
You need to do the same before you face the notebooks, cameras and the microphones.
Journalists aren’t, as is quite often perceived, always out to “get” people.Not unless they’ve done something wrong in the first place.
But they will ask searching questions. It’s their job.
Why? Because they ask those questions on behalf of their audience.
When Mishal Husain grills a politician she’s doing it on behalf of the millions of listeners to BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.
Likewise when sports reporters try and get a straight answer out of Jose’ Mourinho, rather than just a petulant rebuff, it is because they are writing for their readers. Those readers are sports fans.
The journalist knows his or her audience – and you need to know yours before you agree to any interview.
If you are talking to a specialist website or the trade press, they know the subject matter and will want more forensic detail.
It is a completely different situation if you are doing a general media interview for a radio or television news programmes.
You aren’t talking to your peers or your friends, you have the opportunity to talk to a far wider audience.
They may have no prior knowledge about the subject you are talking about because they have just switched on the TV or radio as they get ready for work, or are preparing tea for the kids.
These are the people you need to think about when you prepare.
You need to engage them and make sure they fully understand the points you make.
It’s no use coming out of a broadcast studio punching the air and thinking you’ve nailed it, if you’ve peppered your responses with acronyms and jargon that no one listening or watching understands.
As soon as you do that they mentally, and maybe literally, switch off – and nothing you’ve said has made any sense.
I used the word opportunity earlier. The majority of media interviews are just that.
The producers of radio and TV programmes want people who can bring the subject being discussed to life for their audiences.
It’s the perfect opportunity for you to use your personality and knowledge to really shine.
But only if you do the homework and put in the preparation.
I love working in this great city, the symbol of which is the worker bee.
So I hope my “three Bs’ will help you.
Be clear: Before the interview make sure you have identified the key messages you want to get across.Be conversational: Think of your audience and make sure you talk to them in a way they can understand – cut out any jargon and imagine you are talking to one person.Be concise: Don’t waffle and get to your point – you may well be cut down to 20 seconds.
Before my 17 years as a BBC presenter and reporter I was a print reporter.
I now use that expertise to work with CEOS needing to be prepped before making a major announcement, teams wanting to nail their key messages, and agencies that have a client who needs to become media savvy.
As well as offering crisis communications training to ensure if the ‘brown stuff’ does hit the fan – you’re all ready.
If you and your teams would like help to get prepared and confident for the media please get in touch – if you book this month, you’ll save £300.