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Get to the Point: Media Training Basics

When you first begin building your brand, your story is everything. It’s how you appeal to customers, build new relationships and get across your company’s key messages. But you alone can only spread the word so far, and that’s where sharing your story with the right media can be a huge help.

speech-bubbles-310399_640Media interviews span subjects from a new product to a company launch or a round of funding, and are also conducted in a variety of ways—from a telephone call to a broadcast interview. While an interview can seem intimidating, it’s important not to think of it as an inquisition, but rather a conversation. It is a bit of a shift in perception, but with some simple preparation you can be as comfortable in any interview situation as you would be catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee.

How to prepare?

It’s simple. Prepare with expected key questions and write down notes to create a “briefing page” with the core points for your interview. For example:

Ask Yourself Why. Why are you doing this interview? What is the larger goal of the interview—will it help you educate a new audience or gain customers?

Think about the Audience. Hint, it’s not the reporter.  Ask yourself who is this reporter’s key audience? Make sure your talking points address the audience at hand. If you have an enterprise startup but you’re talking to a general business publication, relate your story to overall business issues felt across the industry. It will make your story compelling to both the reporter and the publication’s readers, establishing trust and authenticity.

Know Your Story. And let’s not forget the most important question: what are the main points of the interview? Key messages are essential and contribute to the larger goal of the interview, such as new customer inquiries, buzz before a big announcement or investor interest as a result of the published article. As a reporter would look at it, they are the who, what, where, why and how of your story. You need a simple description of what your company does, how it’s different and why it matters.

Be Memorable. Remember not be boring in the process. People remember narratives and stories, make sure you use them to illustrate your points or showcase how something works. Challenge yourself to use a minimum of two “for examples” during the course of your interview.

Sound out Your Sound Bites. What are three key messages or easy-to-quote messages that describes the main idea of your content or expertise? Reporters can help you tell your story, but it’s up to you to give them that winning sound bite.

Do Your Research. Finally, don’t be afraid to cyber-stalk. Know as much as you can about the reporter. What school did they go to? Do you have mutual LinkedIn connections? What have they tweeted about recently? It helps to connect on a personal level to build your relationship, and sprinkling a personal twist could make your story interesting to them and their readers.

Now that you are prepared, nail the interview. 

Reporters are the gatekeepers to your key audiences, so get it right.

Focus First: Be comfortable. You don’t want any distractions and make sure your simple key messages are bulleted and in front of you. Read up on current news before beginning – you don’t want to be a deer in the headlights if they bring up recent news that affects your industry. And at the start of the interview, take the lead and offer to give an introduction to your background and why you are talking to them today. This isn’t just about you— show that you’re excited about their audience and hope you can be a resource for both this reporter and their readers.

Make it a Conversation: Avoid industry jargon and don’t assume the reporter knows just as much about the industry as you do—always offer to explain and ask for feedback. When closing the interview, determine what are next steps. Have you summarized the key points for the reporter? Do you need to send over additional information for their story, such as a headshot or FAQ sheet?

Go the Extra Mile: Take notes on what the reporter found interesting throughout the conversation or on details they revealed to you. These notes will be useful in any follow-up conversations.

A Word of Caution: You are always on-the-record unless otherwise indicated. Don’t mislead a reporter, ever, or offer up “between you and me” sensitive information. The point is to tell your story and get to know the media, but don’t try to build a relationship by spilling insider secrets.

Take the opportunity to get to know the reporter across the table, on the other end of the phone or through the camera, as a person. Be considerate of their time, learn what they’re passionate about and always get to the point quickly.

Originally appeared on Creator:  https://creator.wework.com/knowledge/get-point-media-training-basics/