How to be a reporter’s favorite source: Ten tips, plus bonus tips for recorded interviews
A call from a reporter is an opportunity for you and your association to share valuable information and build your reputation among readers and viewers. A little preparation will help you get your message out and pave the way for future interviews.
- Ask who the reporter’s audience is, if you’re not familiar with the publication. Consider the audience and their knowledge level, and then tailor your comments accordingly.
- Identify what you believe is most newsworthy to his or her readers. You have a limited time to tell your story, so get to the point.
- Make sure you know the basics, i.e., the five Ws and H: Who will benefit? What is new or innovative? When will an event occur? Where? Why is this important? How does this advance knowledge?
- Be prepared with some short anecdotes and examples. Reporters will be looking for information that helps their readers relate to your comments. While you should have one or two stories in mind, be careful to avoid scripting your comments.
- Speak slowly; allow the reporter time to take notes.
- Avoid using acronyms and technical jargon.
- Don’t speculate. If you don’t know the answer to a question, offer to investigate and follow up with a response.
- End the interview by summarizing your two or three main points.
- Offer to share photos, graphics or links to videos that illustrate the subject. Visuals can be as simple as your head shot or your organization’s logo – anything that will add color and draw the eye to the article.
- Make sure the reporter has your correct name, title and organization’s name. Offer your contact information and volunteer to answer follow-up questions. Do not ask to review the article before publication.
Four Bonus Tips for Video and Audio Interviews
- Remember to take a millisecond break between sentences. The reporter may not be able to use your entire response. A brief pause allows for editing, without cutting you off or omitting your comment entirely.
- Repeat the subject of the question in your response. For example, let’s say you’re asked, “How long have you been working on this project?” Don’t say, “Five years.” Instead, say, “We started developing this project five years ago.” Parroting back the subject allows the video editor to delete the reporter’s questions and keep the focus on you, the expert.
- Avoid wearing small prints, checks or plaids, which create a moiré effect or rainbow pattern on camera.
- Offer to meet in a quiet space, away from the crowd. Not only will the sound quality be improved, but you won’t inadvertently film other people without their permission.
Finally, remember that reporters are working on deadline. If you aren’t available to comment, they will move onto someone who is. The more accessible you are, the more likely you and your organization are to be featured.