Thursday, September 09, 2010

Strategies for Giving Great Magazine Interviews for Business Publicity

By Pam Lontos

Finally! All your press releases and public relations efforts have paid off and you’ve scored an interview with a major magazine. Your hard work is done, now all you have to do is show up for the interview, answer a few questions, and your product or service will start selling like mad, right? Not so fast.

Granted, getting an interview takes great effort. But an interview doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get quoted in the final article. If your image is unprofessional, if your information isn’t quite what the reporter wanted, or worse yet, if you come across as rude, then you won’t get plugged in the article and you definitely won’t get another chance.

So what can you do to make the right impression and help ensure that you’re quoted in the final article? Use the following five strategies for giving a great interview and getting the media attention your business deserves:

#1 Take Time to Prepare for the Interview

Whether you’re meeting the reporter for a cup of coffee or conducting the interview over the phone, you must be prepared. Before the interview begins, write three to five main points that you want to cover on an index card. That way you won’t struggle with an answer during the interview and you won’t forget to mention any important topics.

You can also use the points on your card as backup information. Reporters will inevitably ask you at least one question you don’t want to or can’t answer. In case you are unable to respond, you can say, “That brings up an interesting point...” then go on to one of your prepared statements. If this doesn’t work, offer to find out the answer to the questions and get back to them as soon as possible.

If your interview is over the phone, don’t be tempted to read scripted responses from a pre-printed sheet. Reporters can tell when your words are read off a page versus when you’re giving honest, unscripted answers.

#2 Be Polite and Easy to Work With

Magazine reporters are busy people with time sensitive deadlines to meet and editors to satisfy. So if you don’t respond to their calls and messages or if you’re late for the scheduled interview, then they won’t hesitate to move on and find someone else to quote.

During the interview, be helpful and show that you care about the reporter and their job at hand. Ask what you can do to make his or her job easier. Listen to their answer and be an eager, accessible source of information. Also ask the reporter if you are speaking too quickly. Despite available technology, many reporters still take notes by hand. Speak slowly so they don’t miss any of your points.

Everyone likes compliments, so always find something positive about the reporter to build rapport. Maybe you’ve read some of the reporter’s other stories, or maybe you like their shirt. Whatever compliments you can give, make them truthful and sincere. And don’t be pushy about what you want, because ultimately it is up to them whether or not they mention your book. Ask, “If you are able to, would you please mention my product or service?” The reporter will decide how much room to allow for your business, web address, products and services, price, etc.

#3 Give Plenty of Information

Many business professionals fear giving away too much information to reporters. They think that if they say too much, then no one will need their products or services. But spoiling your years of training and research in a few quotes is impossible. In reality, if you don’t give away enough information you probably won’t get quoted at all. Reporters usually interview at least two or three sources for each article.

After a few interviews, if you notice that other experts get several paragraphs while you only get a sentence, or maybe you don’t get quoted at all, then you aren’t giving the reporter enough information. So be forthright, and answer the reporter’s question accurately and thoroughly. Don’t say, “You’ll get the answer when you hire me.”

Also, let the reporter lead the conversation. The reporter most likely has an agenda for the story’s development already in mind. Don’t attempt to take over the conversation or talk about points the reporter does not want to cover, because if you don’t give them what they want, they simply won’t include you in the final story.

#4 Be Accurate

Keep your responses to the reporter’s questions simple. Even if your business is in a very technical or scientific field, avoid uncommon words, industry jargon, and out-of-date phrases. Speak as if you were explaining something to the reporter for the first time. But speak with authority and confidence, and don’t say, “I think” or “maybe.”

When you’re talking to the media, always be prepared to back up your claims because reporters want facts. Instead of saying, “The majority of people do this...” say, “85% of my clients do this...” And be sure to stick to the facts. Don’t overload the reporter with unnecessary information that is not directly related to the story.

Realize that in the media world, there’s no such thing as off the record. So always assume that everything you say is on tape and will be put into print. Don’t ask the reporter to send you a copy of the story for your approval. While this may seem like a reasonable request, it will only offend a seasoned reporter. But do ask for a copy of the magazine to keep as a souvenir. This will show how pleased you are that the reporter has given you the opportunity to get quoted in the publication.

#5 Find Future Stories

Always view your interview as an opportunity to establish a working relationship with the reporter. You want the reporter to see you as a resource that they can use for information now and for stories in the future. Just like you’re always looking for ways to get quoted, reporters are always looking for people to quote. So at the end of every interview, always ask what other stories they are covering and what other publications they write for.

Explain how you can be beneficial to the different stories and leads they are investigating. And don’t be afraid to mention topics outside your industry. While you may work in one field, you’re probably an expert in many areas outside your profession.

Great Interviews in the Future

Media exposure is undoubtedly one of the best ways to boost business. But landing an interview doesn’t guarantee you’ll get quoted in the reporter’s story. When you use these five strategies for giving a great interview, you’ll have a better chance of getting quoted and of getting called back to interview for stories in the future.

About the Author:
Pam Lontos is owner of PR/PR, a public relations firm that specializes in professional speakers, authors, and experts. Having been an author, speaker, and former VP of Disney's Shamrock Broadcasting, she knows the ropes of getting you good publicity and how to use it to really boost your business. Call for a free consultation at (407) 299-6128, and sign up for a free publicity tips e-newsletter at


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