Interview tips to effectively deliver your agency’s message

By Sheri Benninghoven, APR and Scott Summerfield, Principals, SAE Communications 

Each year, CAPIO offers one-on-one media interview training sessions for members. We use the tips below during the training to help you effectively deliver your agency’s messages in on-site and virtual interviews.

  • Pause before you start your answer – it’s the most valuable time you have in the interview to think before you speak
  • Use notes frequently – include only a few words or phrases on a messaging worksheet that will remind you of the messages you want to deliver, and look at them during the pause
  • If your answer isn’t ideal, ask reporter to repeat it or indicate you want to start your answer over – reporters will nearly always honor your request for a re-do
  • Use repetition strategically – repeat your messages frequently to ensure the one answer that is used in the story will include your message, and start each answer with your agency name in on-site interviews
  • Small things matter during a broadcast interview – facial expression, eye contact, vocal speed, volume, and attire all combine to enhance (or detract) from your credibility
  • Use natural hand gestures – just make sure they don’t block your face or refer to an off-camera location
  • For a television broadcast interview, your stance should be comfortable – you’ll be more confident and better able to focus on your messages
  • Give Web URLs, phone numbers, Twitter handles, etc. to reporter before interview and ask to post on website for broadcast or as a separate copy block for print/online – it’s more effective to deliver this content visually vs. verbally
  • Have a final answer ready – leave the audience with your most important message 

A few notes on virtual interviews

  • Lighting, audio, background – we’re now almost a year into virtual interviews, and these three areas are the most frequent roadblocks to a professional on-camera appearance
  • Align reporter under camera and position camera at eye-level – this matches your image with the reporter’s and dramatically improves eye contact
  • Situational awareness – things can happen in the background or nearby, so avoid headphones/pods in both ears and consistently check your own image

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