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There is no one-size-fits-all media interview

Watching the post-game interviews on the Super Bowl and thinking back on recent media trainings reminded me that there is no such thing as a “typical” media interview. Once we remember that reporters are all different and that their approaches and objectives differ, then it changes the way any spokesperson should prepare.
Perhaps it’s because gaffes and investigational pieces gain so much notoriety, or maybe it’s because most organizations still haven’t learned to place enough value on successful media interviews – too many people prepare mostly for a defensive posture and fail to communicate their best information.
Surely, when we prepare for “60 Minutes” or a product recall, or a crisis, the whole model is one of defense. But other interviews with trade and business publications, and with some bloggers and webzines, are just great opportunities to communicate.
Here are a few of the interview types:
  • Product launch – this is a news interview. Reporters want your best information, examples and a third party who says your product is good. They will also ask about competition, but that should be a pretty easy defense.
  • I won the Super Bowl – reporters want your best reactions, emotion and why you won.
  • I lost the Super Bowl – reporters want to probe your mistakes.
  • Show me-how-this-works (aka cook-in-the-kitchen) – Trade show interviews are the prime example of these. Most reporters are trolling and are excited to learn your information. PepsiCo recently did a series of interviews with Fox Business News. The segment with CEO Indra Nooyi was a very straightforward business piece, with a few timely questions about Egypt. The segment with a VP of Product Development was all about creating tastes and flavors for global/local markets. The prep for this was to demonstrate enthusiasm and take advantage of the fun segment and help the reporter explain to his/her viewers, listeners and readers.
  • Round-up story – Here the reporter wants to cover several organizations in the same field. The key to this interview is finding out who else is being interviewed, trying to frame the story, and then having either the first interview and/or the best example.
  • Crisis/Negative news – This type of interview requires careful preparation and limited answers. The media is not a good place to discuss the organization’s strategy. Often, the interview will consist of one basic answer that you don’t go beyond.
  • Punditry – This is the type of interview for Key Opinion Leaders and acknowledged experts. It’s important to provide perspective to the reporter on these. One of our clients had a wonderful line for this type of interview: Tell the truth and look for opportunity to be provocative
These are just a few of our interview types. Let us know your favorite types.