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Five tips for delivering solid media interviews

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Getting quoted in the news media is a great way to build your credibility and business. Getting a reporter or writer to call is only the first step, though– if you botch the interview, the reporter is unlikely to quote you or call you again. Here are five tips to help you with interviews.

1. Be professional. Approach interviews with the same professionalism as any business meeting. Be punctual and don’t keep the reporter waiting on the phone or in person. Eliminate potential distractions like your cell phone or e-mail alerts that might pop up during the interview.

2. Use a landline. Some of my sources insist on using their cell phone or technology like Skype for the interview. The problem with this is that the voice quality is unpredictable. If you want to be sure that your message comes across clearly, use only landlines for your phone or radio show interviews.

3. Prep but don’t overdo it. Occasionally a reporter on a deadline will call you seeking an interview immediately. In most cases, though, you can ask for a callback and I recommend you do so. Ask for details about the story: theme, angle, etc. This helps you focus your thoughts and lets you jot down key points you want to convey. Don’t over-prep, though, or your responses will sound canned. Writers want conversational quotes, not speeches, so limit your preparation to notes instead of full-blown text.

4. Back up your opinions. A good response to an interview question combines your opinion with supporting facts. A response that’s more likely to get quoted backs up your opinion with economic stats, a historical perspective, and so on.

5. Don’t lecture. There’s a difference between responding with sufficient detail and burying the writer with a long-winded answer. Interviews should be like conversations with a prospect or client with a natural flow of question, response, follow-up, etc. Pay attention to your responses so you don’t monopolize the conversation.

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