Media Interview Tip Sheet

Interviewing with the media is a great way to share your story, but you need to be prepared. Below you’ll find several tips and tricks to help you stay on message and get the most out of your interview.

MESSAGE DELIVERY

  • It is important to remember that you’re meant to tell your story and deliver specific messages, not necessarily answer all of the reporter’s questions.
  • When delivering these messages, try to keep your language clear and consistent, and don’t assume the reporter knows as much as you do. Lay language is always appreciated.

There are several strategies to stay on message, which include deflecting, bridging and flagging.

Deflecting

  • Remember that you are not always the most appropriate person to answer a question, and so you may need to deflect the question. There is nothing wrong with putting a reporter in touch with a person prepared to answer questions outside the scope of your key messages.
  • Be sure not to guess at answers or provide answers that you are not comfortable with since everything is on the record and could appear in the story.
  • You can deflect by using common deflecting phrases, which include:
    • “I am not the right person to answer this.”
    • “I can put you in touch with the person who can answer that question.”
    • “That is not my area of expertise, but I can put you in touch with the person who can answer your question.”

Bridging

  • Occasionally you will be asked questions that might cause your interview to go off topic. In these instances, use bridging to get back on track.
  • You can bridge from any question back to the key message that is most related to that question with common bridging phrases. These include:
    • “I think I can best answer that by discussing…”
    • “I don’t know about that, but what I can tell you is…”
    • “You might also want to know that…”
    • “Our research shows…”
    • “Another way to look at that is…”
    • “I want to make sure you understand that…”

Flagging

  • Flagging is essentially letting the reporter know the most important aspects of what you are saying. It is tactfully controlling the conversation by assuring your messages are heard.
  • If your interview is in person, body language (i.e., hand gestures) may be useful.
  • Flagging phrases are useful for any interview, whether it is in person or via phone. These can include:
    • “I want to make sure you understand that…”
    • “There are three things I think are important to this story…”
    • “Let me repeat something I said earlier…”
    • “If there are just one or two ideas I leave you with today, they are that…”
    • “I think what’s most important to your readers is…”

TIMING

  • When communicating, timing is everything. Make sure you:
    • Listen to the questions
    • Do not rush
    • Speak slowly and deliberately
    • Keep your speech cadence consistent
    • Do not over‐answer
    • Do not be afraid of silence

PRESENTATION

  • Use appropriate body language and natural gestures and vary the tone and pitch of your voice while speaking. If your interviewer and viewers don’t like what they see, they’ll be less inclined to listen to what you say.
  • Regarding clothing and appearance, make sure you wear something comfortable to be confident. If the interview will be recorded for television or video, remember the following:
    • Clothing with small patterns or pinstripes, as well as black, white and red, can be distracting on camera.
    • Avoid wearing distracting jewelry.