1. Don’t try to fake it. Never, ever claim expertise that you lack. If the reporter is seeking information about a subject with which you lack familiarity, just say so. A quick Google search might give you what you need, but it’s likely the reporter has seen that material and is also talking to genuine experts, as well. If she thinks you’re trying to fake expertise in the hope of being quoted, your credibility is shot.
2. Stay on-the-record. Unless you specify that your comments are off-the-record before hand, assume that everything you say or write is on-the-record and can be published and attributed to you. In other words, you can’t state something and then tell the reporter that was meant to be off-the-record–it’s too late.
3. Make a good impression. Avoid using filler words like “umm” and “like” or expressions such as “you know.” Tape yourself doing mock interviews to help you work on avoiding those phrases. If you’re doing TV interviews, you want to convey an image of professional competence, not an excess of fashion sense.
4. Relax but stay alert. Some sources are so nervous I can hear the quiver in their voices. Others are so relaxed that they babble on about anything. Practice and expertise are the best solutions to getting over nerves, but even when you’re confident, be mindful of what you’re saying and doing. Stay focused and on point. Remember: you’re on the record.
5. Don’t pester the reporter. Don’t ask the report to send you a copy of the text before submitting it so you can proof it. Also, being interviewed does not guarantee you’ll be cited in the story. The writer might not quote you or the editor could cut your comments from the story. Don’t hound the writer after the interview for a published copy of the story. It’s OK to ask the writer when the story might run but it’s up to you to check for the article’s publication.
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