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There’s a reporter on the phone - 20 Top Tips for Business Leaders

  1. Always establish who you are talking to, establish their ‘bona fides’ & contact details
  2. Then find out their deadline & offer to call back well in advance of it
  3. Don’t do ‘off-the-cuff’ interviews – first establish the reason & context for the reporter’s call
  4. Never say ‘no comment’ – if you can’t comment at the time, explain why & when you will be able to do so
  5. Determine what you want to achieve from the interview
  6. What are your three key messages – write them down and prioritise them (don’t necessarily memorise them). Now work out your priority message – this is the one message you’ll communicate regardless of what questions you’re asked 
  7. When being interviewed, listen to the entire question – then think of your answer (no self-listening)
  8. Look for and create and opportunity to get across your priority message – Bridge
  9. Use simple language/no jargon – don’t force the reporter or the audience to interpret your answer 
  10. If you do not know the answer – don’t guess. Always be truthful
  11. There is no such thing as ‘off-the-record’
  12. Don’t be tempted to say something that you wouldn’t want to read on the front page of tomorrow’s Dominion Post
  13. Don’t fill the ‘pregnant pause’ – it’s the interviewers responsibility to keep the interview going
  14. Try, where possible, to meet the interviewer and do the interview in person. If a face-to-face interview is not possible, do telephone interviews on a land-line, not your mobile 
  15. When being interviewed by telephone, do the interview standing up rather than sitting as you will be more alert & sound better
  16. In a television studio avoid sitting on a swivel chair & look at the reporter, not the camera
  17. Always arrive for an interview early
  18. Don’t over answer, get to the point and be concise
  19. Support your answers with examples - substantiate the points you make
  20. Remember – media interviews represent an opportunity not a threat. While you can’t control what the media reports – you can control what you say. 


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