Your news release has crossed the wire and pitches have been sent: Peter Mansbridge will soon call requesting an interview.
As the requests come in, make sure that your media spokesperson is informed and prepared for each interview by preparing a media interview brief. This essential tool highlights helpful information about the reporter and the outlet, and reiterates all important speaking points. By “brief”, we mean a concise document that your spokesperson can glance at during the call, or review quickly on the way to the studio.
Be crystal clear
Start your media interview brief with all the logistical details of the appointment. For various reasons, not all spokespeople will read through to the end, so be sure to put the most important information front and centre.
Put the words “media interview” right in the heading to differentiate this document from any other item that may be piled on your spokesperson’s desk.
Include the name, title and photo of the interviewer, along with the name and location of their outlet. The photo is important! Personalization can help the interviewee feel more comfortable, especially if the journalist and spokesperson have never met before, and especially if this interview will happen on the phone.
Make this as clear as you can. Triple check that you’ve accounted for time zones, and that you’ve got your a.m.’s and p.m.’s down properly. (Just as an aside, if you’re booking interviews into a calendar for a spokesperson in another time zone, do a test to ensure your everyone's calendar settings are jiving properly.)
Let’s get your spokesperson to the right place at the right time. These days, most media interviews are conducted on the phone. Be clear about the call-in details including who is calling who, and state whether anyone else will be on the line. Don’t forget to include the conference line passwords or other additional codes.
If the interview is in a broadcast studio or another offsite location, include a map and account for travel time in your spokesperson’s calendar. Be sure to add in any relevant details about signing in with security, and so on.
Make sure there’s no doubt about how the interview will come together. For examcple, is the spokesperson driving to the studio or have you arranged for a ride? Will you be hosting the conference call or will the spokesperson do it? Will you do introductions on the line?
Make a very brief statement describing whycale this opportunity came about: This interview is a result of yesterday’s new product announcement. This interview is a result of the layoffs announcement this morning. This interview is a result of a proactive pitch associating our product with healthy lifestyle choices for teens.
Did the reporter read your news release? Have they received the background information? What is their level of knowledge about the issue they want to discuss – have they covered it before or is this a research mission? Provide as much insight as you have on what angle may be pursued.
(NOTE: Ensure your spokesperson has read all the same material as the reporter.)
What do we want to accomplish with this interview? List 1-3 goals so that your spokesperson can frame their responses accordingly. Here are some examples of goals you may have:
- Clear up that misunderstanding about our product’s health claim
- Introduce our company to this media outlet with a good overview of our strengths
- Explain the research findings in greater detail as they relate to the reporter’s location
What key messages do we want to relay in the interview? List the top three here. The point of an interview from the reporter’s perspective is often to obtain a unique quote, so be sure your spokesperson can relay your key messages in a comfortable, conversational and succinct way. Ideally, your spokesperson was selected for his/her familiarity with the material, but add a few “must include” tidbits to this section, such as data points relevant to this reporter’s purpose, key stats or product names.
Helpful facts about the interviewer
Give your spokesperson some background on the interviewer, such as what they cover on a regular basis and where they may have worked before. Share anything useful, such as whether the reporter is new to the beat or if they have a long history with the subject matter.
Include links to the reporter’s social media accounts in case your spokesperson wants to dig deeper. If the interviewer has had any past interactions with your spokesperson or company, include details here.
Information about the media outlet
Give a brief summary of the interviewer’s outlet and type, whether it is print, radio, TV, web, or blog. Include links to the website and social accounts as well as details concerning size, prominence and audience demographics. Add in anything else you feel might be relevant here to give your spokesperson a better understanding of the audience the story will reach.
Compile a short list of links to relevant stories the interviewer has worked on in past to give an idea of their style and substance. Include dates, the outlet name (if it differs) and whether the stories mention your company or your competitors.
What do you include in your media brief? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @CNWGroup.