How to keep a media interview on track

3 minutes read

Journalists aren’t always trying to trick you when they ask off-topic questions.

They may just be searching for a fresh or attention-grabbing angle for their story.

Every news story needs a hook, something that makes it interesting to the reader, viewer or listener and finding that hook is the journalist’s job.

As the person being interviewed, your job is to keep the interview on track and deliver your key messages in a way that resonates with an audience.

It is important to remember that you are in charge when it comes to releasing information.

Journalists can ask as many questions as they like but you don’t have an obligation to answer them – you need only answer the questions you want to answer.

Aruga’s Media Training program is filled with useful advice, tactics and techniques for keeping media interviews on track, including:

Know what you want to say

Take time to work out what your key messages are before your interview starts. Three key messages are usually enough. Distil these into brief statements that you can repeat throughout the interview.

Set interview parameters

If you are on a tight timeframe, be clear and upfront with the journalist about how long you have for the interview. If there are topics that you won’t discuss, tell the journalist in advance that these are off-limits.

Stay up-to-date with current affairs and trends

It is fair game for a journalist to ask you to comment on news that is breaking in your industry. Familiarise yourself with any major developments that you may be asked to comment on – just in case there is something that you want to say.

Deflect, deflect, deflect

If you are asked questions that you don’t want to answer, be polite but act quickly and decisively to shut down that line of inquiry. Bring the interview back to your key messages. Before the interview, develop a few bridging statements that will allow you to deflect unwanted questioning and refocus attention on your agenda.

Do you have questions of your own?

Such as “How do I write Key Messages?” or “What are Bridging Statements?” or “How can I make maximum impact in minimum time?”.

We have you covered with a suite of tailored media training services, whether you want an in-person workshop or the flexibility of a self-paced eLearning course.

Aruga’s team of qualified journalists can take a single spokesperson through their paces – from on-camera training to interview coaching – or develop a whole-of-company media plan with key messages, talking points and briefing notes.