Media exposure is a double-edged sword. It can allow you to cut through the layers of distance and make a direct connection with your target public. But, in media interviews if you dont pay careful attention to what you say and how you say it that sword may become the thing upon which you fall.
REMEMBER YOUR STAKEHOLDERS
While you may be talking with a reporter or interviewer, you are ultimately speaking to a readership or audience. frame your answers from the perspective of your main stake-holders:
- “If this legislation goes ahead, you wont be able to drive on our country roads without the very real hazard of road trains anywhere in the state. Your personal safety will be at risk”
- “This new process will mean that you can harvest your crop and not worry about pesticide residues getting into the food chain.”;'
BE CLEAR AND DIRECT
Begin each response to a question with your most important point (theme) to ensure the point will be clear and direct.
- “Safety, reliability, and a quick response are the key factors in our new plan .”……(lead on to supporting statements)
- “Bureaucracies are the hardened arteries of Government. Private competition ups the ante and gets everyone working better”
- “There is a growing strength in women, but it’s in the forehead, not the forearm.”
SPEAK IN SOUND BITES
Be able to articulate each of your lead points in less than fifteen words. leading with short, encapsulating points is extremely useful for news “sound bites”.
short lead points in radio interviews quickly define your arguments and link into the Primacy/Recency rule. Some of what you say may end up on the cutting room floor. Design your lead responses to compel editors to include them
USE TACTICLY THE REPORTER'S OR INTERVIEWERS NAME
Refer to an interviewer by name a couple of times during an interview – don’t overdo it.
In print interviews, refer to the journalist by name as you usually would in ordinary conversation
BALANCE HOW YOU SAY WITH WHAT YOU SAY
How you say things is as important as what you say. The mass media admires people who are energetic, involved, and direct in what they say. Make sure your responses are forthright and enthusiastic.
Generally, respond quickly and energetically to questions – use pause only for dramatic effect.
Demonstrate the strength of your convictions. Respond with candour and confidence because indecision and insincerity can be magnified on radio and television
HUMANISE YOUR RESPONSES
Your field of expertise is interesting to you. So why not make it interesting to your audience or readership?
One of the obstacles of media visibility is stereotyping: academics viewed as dispassionate pointy heads, politicians being perceived as snake oil sellers, bureaucrats seen as interested in process before people, etc. Make sure that you dispel the stereotype by connecting your message to people and avoid at all costs the temptation to appear self important
DON'T BE PRESSURED INTO RESPONDING INSTANTLY TO A DIFFICULT QUESTION ON A COMPLEX SUBJECT
Notwithstanding the above advice on, use bridging statements to give yourself time to refer back to your main themes:
- “Let’s look at the important principles of this…..”
- “That’s an interesting way of looking at it, but it stills boils down to…..”
- “Yes, but what are the really important issues to be resolved here…..”
bridge your response back to your major points