Preparing for a Media Interview: Five Tips to Keep in Mind
You’ve just gotten a call that fills you with excitement—and maybe a little dread. You’ve been asked to be interviewed by the media.
Very few people are comfortable facing a camera or simply speaking on the record. What if the reporter asks you something that ends up making you look bad? What if you say something that gets misinterpreted and hurts a client? Or your business?
The reality is, for many attorneys, interviews are a part of the job. And a prepared professional views them not as a risk, but as an opportunity. A good interview can raise your profile—and thus attract new clients. That’s particularly true when you’re being interviewed for your expertise rather than for a specific case.
So here are some general tips to keep in mind as you prepare:
- Focus on your key message(s) you want to convey and know them inside and out. Be ready to speak clearly to these messages from a variety of angles. While you’ll know the reason for the interview in advance, the specific questions asked could surprise you. By organizing your thoughts beforehand, you’ll be able to speak intelligently to your key message whenever the opportunity arises.
- Imagine the interview you want to see. Take the time to visualize how you will appear on-screen or in print. That vision should include physical poise, so plan your attire accordingly. Remember that a basic, professional look is safer than a flashy pattern. There are other venues for showcasing your personality as part of your brand.
- Stay positive. Knowing your status in the court of public opinion is useful. But even if you’re representing the defendant, or speaking about a contentious legal issue, don’t be unnecessarily critical or defensive. Research the reporter’s other work in advance to get a sense of his or her interview style.
- Know when to stop talking. Interview subjects can look bad if they go off on tangents, speculate aloud, or simply ramble due to nervousness. Remember that most interviewers want you to keep things concise. So stick to the subject. Don’t be tempted to hold forth at length, even if it looks as though the reporter wants you to do so. You’ll be doing yourself and your firm a favor by showing some restraint.
- You can’t control the interview, but you can control your words. Don’t get flustered by unexpected questions, and be prepared to let go of the final product. Even if you’re the star of this show, you won’t be present in the editing room. No more so than you’ll be present in the jury room. Accept it and move on.
In a nutshell, stay mentally alert and stay focused, just as you would in the courtroom. That way, you’ll make the most of this opportunity to build your reputation. If you still think an interview sounds risky, take solace in your expertise. For many attorneys, public speaking and presenting a specific point-of-view are all in a day’s work. With the same prep you’d do for a court case, you’ll be ready to think on your feet and craft a winning narrative in front of a larger audience.
And one final note: Make sure that you leverage your interview after the fact by linking to the article or video from your own website and social media accounts–something our team of marketing experts can easily help you with.