In the last PR Insider, I shared with you some tips for reaching out to the media during the coronavirus crisis; tips that I had also discussed in a webinar I participated in titled “Authority Marketing in a COVID-19 World.”
That webinar was inspired, of course, by the many ways in which the coronavirus has impacted our daily lives, including how people are able to market their personal and business brands during these unsettling times.
I explained that there are many opportunities for getting in the media as journalists and hosts are looking for people who can provide quality advice; have strong credentials; and who can come through with a timely response to meet their deadlines.
Let’s look at the next step. What happens when you offer your expertise to the media and you get some takers?
As you prepare for, and then carry out, those media interviews, keep these things in mind:
- Be on time. As with so many important things in life, it’s bad form to be late for a media interview, whether it’s happening by phone or in person. Print reporters are on deadline and tardiness on your part can cause you to lose the opportunity. Meanwhile, radio hosts will have to scramble if they have you slotted for a live interview and you’re nowhere to be found. All around, being late is bad for your reputation and can also hurt your publicist’s relationship with their media contacts. Being on time is respectful and will increase your chances of being their “go-to” expert in the future.
- Be direct when answering a question. This is not the time to be sociable. Talk about the situation at hand. Yes, you want to be engaging, but you also need to be succinct. Print journalists especially, don’t have the time to listen to extraneous information; they’re on deadline to get their articles written. Providing straight answers in a way that makes it easy for them to quote you will enhance your chances of being included in their article.
- Be current on your information. Events can change rapidly, and that’s been especially true with the coronavirus. We see constant news updates on the latest government actions, business disruptions, and other interruptions to our normal way of life. If you aren’t current with your information, you will end up looking uninformed during the interview. Keep on top of the news and you will be able to provide much more insightful observations, which is good for you, for the interviewer, and for the audience.
- Get local whenever possible. When you are seeking national media coverage, you can end up being interviewed by media outlets in New York City, Detroit, Denver, Seattle or anywhere else in between. Before the interview, familiarize yourself with some of the particulars of what’s happening in that city or state so that you can better address what’s pertinent to those audiences. You will come off as more informed and they will appreciate the interest you show in their specific problems.
- Avoid technical jargon. Nearly every profession has jargon and acronyms that are tossed about casually by those in the profession, but are a mysterious jumble of nothingness to everyone else. Avoid those at all costs because you will lose the host, and if you lose the host, you’ve lost that audience. Instead, use everyday language and common words that the average person can easily grasp. Your message becomes all the more powerful when it can be understood by a wider audience.
- Limit your use of numbers and statistics. I don’t know about you, but I zone out when I hear a bunch of numbers being rattled off. Provide me with good, practical advice that I can use, though, and you’ve got my attention. Yes, numbers do come into play with the coronavirus – and many other topics you might be interviewed about – but don’t overload the audience with non-stop statistics. Instead, sprinkle them in judiciously throughout your answers. That allows the audience and the host to digest them in smaller chunks.
If you would like to learn more about the topic of “Authority Marketing in a COVID-19 World,” the webinar is available here.
One final point I would like to make about media interviews is this: It’s possible that you will be asked a question and you won’t know the answer. If that happens, whatever you do, don’t try to fake it!
Let’s face it. Most of us – even in our areas of expertise – aren’t walking, breathing versions of an online encyclopedia. Attorneys aren’t familiar with every legal decision ever rendered. Doctors haven’t encountered every ailment on the planet. So, when you don’t know the answer to a question, just acknowledge that. Interviewers on TV and radio will move on to the next question. If your interview is with a print journalist, you can offer to find the answer and get back to them quickly.
Your honesty will help you maintain your credibility as a go-to expert and the media will appreciate you all the more for doing that.
P.S. If you want professional advice on getting the most out of your publicity efforts, give us a call at 727-443-7115 or simply reply to this email.