When you’re looking for help with interview coaching, you get what you pay for.
Try Googling “media relations” sometime, and see what turns up. There are a number of firms out there that put information on the internet (this one included.) What they rely on is a mistaken public notion that “if it’s in print, it must be true.”
Here’s some of the advice I recently found on the PR Zoom Newswire:
“When talking with a reporter:
â€¢ Make a note of the reporterâ€™s name and the name of the media when the caller first offers identification. This serves two purposes: you have an accurate record so you can follow up to see how the story appears; and you can use the reporterâ€™s name during the interview, to help you build rapport with the reporter.
Boy, does this get abused. I can’t tell you how many people I interviewed who thought that starting every other sentence with “Well, Ike” or threw in a “The problem with our widgets, Ike, is…” It actually got in the way of getting the information in a usable form, and was highly annoying. You don’t talk to your friends that way, do you?
â€¢ Provide sufficient evidence for your statements. Reporters love numbers: try to give them numbers whenever you can — particularly when it helps you sell your own agenda.
Yeah, reporters love numbers. NOT! The vast majority of reporters are actually very bad at math (just like the rest of society.) Some wear it as a badge of honor. Unless they operate on a specialized beat that requires background knowledge, you can count on a reporter to need help deciphering statistics, financial statements, polling data, economics, and just about anything else involving numbers you can’t reach with your fingers. Seriously. If you just throw a stats at them, you are just as likely to have them misreported or misrepresented out of ignorance. Give them the context, and make sure they understand them. Don’t try to obscure the truth with a flash of digits.
Reporters are, as a rule, experts at nothing. Treat them with respect, but don’t assume they know everything. There is a lot of ego invested in being a “public figure” through the media, and many reporters (the young ones especially) will be hesitant to ask a question that appears elementary, or even stupid.
Being good conversationalists, they skirt the issue of the “dumb question” in the hopes of gleaning the answer through later context. If you’ve got a delicate detail, point of law, or sticky statistic, by all means take the extra time to make sure the reporter “gets it.” You’re less likely to insult their intelligence, and more likely to cause them a sigh of relief for answering the question they wouldn’t dare ask.
(Note: Yeah, I use the internet to market myself too. The difference is that I have 16 years experience in news from which to tell you how a reporter thinks. I also have dozens of “articles” on this very blog that back up what I proclaim. Caveat Emptor.)