Preparing for a Media Interview: Five Tips to Keep in Mind

Last Updated: February 8, 2024


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.

Attorney Preparation for a Media Interview: Five Tips to Keep in Mind

In an age where digital media’s reach is vast and the news cycle is continuous, being prepared for a media interview is more crucial than ever for attorneys. Whether it’s a traditional news outlet, a podcast, or a legal blog, the principles of preparing for an interview remain the same, albeit with a modern twist. Here are some enhanced tips to keep in mind:

Focus on Your Key Legal Message(s):

  • Adaptability Is Key: In addition to having a clear understanding of your key messages, be adaptable in how you present them. The digital age often requires messages to be digestible in sound bites or tweetable formats without losing their substance. Consider how your key points can be effectively communicated in shorter formats while retaining their impact.
  • Anticipate Trends: Be aware of current legal trends and news that could relate to your message. This awareness can help you tie your key points to broader topics, making your input more relevant and timely.
  • Leverage Storytelling: People resonate with stories more than abstract concepts. Frame your key messages within real-life stories or examples that illustrate your points vividly. This not only makes your message more relatable but also memorable, increasing the likelihood that your audience will remember and act on your advice.

Imagine the Interview You Want to See:

  • Digital Presentation Matters: Beyond planning your physical appearance, consider the digital setting of your interview. For video calls, ensure your background is professional and your lighting is flattering. This also means testing your microphone and camera beforehand to avoid technical issues.
  • Consistency Across Platforms: Ensure that the professional image you project is consistent across all digital platforms where you or your firm are present. This consistency reinforces your brand and the key messages you wish to convey.
  • Practice Non-Verbal Communication: Your body language speaks volumes. Practice maintaining open, confident body language that conveys trustworthiness and expertise. For video interviews, ensure your gestures are visible and complement your verbal messages, enhancing the viewer’s engagement.
  • There are other venues for showcasing your personality as part of your brand.

Stay Positive:

  • Constructive Engagement: Especially when discussing divisive or contentious issues, aim for constructive engagement. Present solutions or thoughtful insights rather than simply critiquing the status quo. This approach can position you as a thought leader in your field.
  • Prepare for Sensitive Topics: Given the fast-paced nature of digital media and social discussions, be prepared to handle sensitive topics with tact. This might involve discussing your firm’s stance on social justice issues or how new regulations impact your practice area.
  • Highlight Positive Impact: When discussing your work or legal issues, highlight the positive impact your firm has had on clients and the community. This reinforces a positive image of your firm and the legal profession, fostering a sense of trust and admiration among viewers.

Know When to Stop Talking:

  • Brevity is Powerful: In an era of limited attention spans, delivering concise, impactful statements can be more effective than lengthy explanations. Practice distilling complex legal concepts into understandable, brief statements that non-lawyers can grasp.
  • Avoid Legal Jargon: While it’s important to showcase your expertise, overly technical language can alienate your audience. Use clear, accessible language to explain legal issues.
  • Prepare Concise Takeaways: Have a set of concise takeaways ready for your audience, summarizing the key points you want them to remember. This ensures that even if the conversation goes off track, you leave your audience with clear, actionable insights related to your expertise.

You Can’t Control the Interview, But You Can Control Your Words:

  • Media Training: Consider undergoing media training to enhance your ability to handle unexpected questions gracefully. Training can provide you with strategies to steer conversations back to your key messages without appearing evasive.
  • Digital Footprint: Remember that your interview might be shared widely online. Be mindful of how your words can be perceived in different contexts or cultures, especially since digital content can be viewed globally.
  • Develop a ‘No Comment’ Strategy: Sometimes, you may be asked about sensitive topics that you cannot discuss openly. Instead of a flat “no comment,” prepare a strategy to navigate these questions gracefully, such as emphasizing confidentiality, legal ethics, or redirecting to what you can share. This approach helps maintain your professionalism and integrity without alienating the audience.

Additional Consideration: Engaging With New Media Formats

Embrace New Media Opportunities: The rise of podcasts, legal blogs, and social media platforms offers new venues for interviews that can reach specialized audiences. Preparing for these formats might require a different approach, such as a more conversational tone for podcasts or a focus on visual elements for video interviews.

Interactive and Real-Time Formats: Be prepared for interactive interviews, such as live streams on social media, where viewers may ask questions in real-time. This format requires quick thinking and the ability to engage directly with the audience’s queries.

Understand the Platform’s Audience: Each media platform has its unique audience and culture. Tailoring your message to fit the platform’s typical audience ensures that your key points resonate more effectively. For example, LinkedIn users may appreciate a more professional tone, while Instagram or TikTok audiences may respond better to a casual and visual approach.

By incorporating these updated and comprehensive strategies, attorneys can effectively prepare for media interviews in today’s digital landscape, ensuring they convey their key messages clearly, engage their audience, and enhance their professional reputation.

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.

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