If you are fronting up for your company as their main spokesperson, you want to do a good job. That goes without saying. The last-minute interview is one of those events which can instantly fill people with foreboding, no matter how experienced they are.
Any media exposure is a good opportunity to get your company out there, but the short notice means that you are largely unprepared and there’s a risk it could go badly wrong.
Managing a Short Notice Media Interview
Here’s how to manage it so that you don’t trip over yourself and end up doing instrumental damage to your company and your future job prospects.
- Don’t Commit Immediately
Last minute doesn’t mean you have to dive into the interview without taking a breath, even if the journalist is on a tight deadline.
Ask them to give you a few minutes and set a time in the immediate future. If you need ten minutes, just tell them you have a few urgent things to do but will see them or talk to them after. Find out a bit about what they want to discuss so you can focus your mind on that and not something else. Then use that little extra time to prepare yourself.
- Assess the Opportunity
Most times when a media opportunity is being set up, you’ll consider a whole range of factors and what you want to get across during the interview.
This isn’t always possible for the last-minute interview but you do have a brief window to think about some of the ramifications. Get online, take a look at the journalist’s last three pieces of work and check out their social media feed to see what they’ve been talking about. Check for any warning signs that you might be in for a difficult time with this person.
- Are You ‘The’ Expert?
If the journalist wants to talk about a specific issue and you don’t have the expertise to handle it, you can either waffle your way through the interview or get someone who knows what they are talking about at least to join in on the interview.
- Have Your Key Messages Ready
Every business has key information that it wants to get across and this should be at the back of your mind at all times. Working these messages into your answers is an art form in itself so make sure you’ve had plenty of practice beforehand if you want it to sound natural and seamless.
- Start the Interview
After you’ve had that valuable ten minutes or so gathering your thoughts, it’s time to get on with the interview. The usual stress busting tips work here, including slowing yourself down and taking a few deep breaths. Talk slowly and clearly and take your time.
If you don’t know the answer to a particular question, then don’t try to speculate out of a sense of panic. Tell the journalist that you don’t have the answer but that you will find out and get back to them. Of course, it’s important that you ensure you do this as quickly as possible after the interview.
Finally, ask if you can help provide additional information for the reporter to support their story – if they’re on a tight deadline they’ll more than likely be grateful on your input.
Journalists are under greater pressure than ever to get the story and with a constant news cycle, it’s likely that you will get several requests for immediate interviews. Learning how to cope with them can mean you have a lot more opportunity to put your company or organisation at the forefront of people’s minds, so it’s worth having an ongoing strategy for dealing with these situations.