You Are the Driver
The first rule of a successful media interview is to remember that the interview belongs to you, not to the reporter. You cede control if you permit yourself to only respond to questions and lose the opportunity to deliver the messages you want to convey about business aviation.
Rule No. 1—Control the interview
Inject your key points by saying, for example, “What I’d like people to know is…” or “It’s important to note that ….”
This technique is known as blocking and bridging. The block can be as simple as a word or phrase, as in: “But,” or “I understand,” and then you go on to bridge to your message—“there is something else very important that I would like to emphasize….
Pause before you answer
Give yourself plenty of time to consider the question and its implications. This is your interview, so take your time in responding to their questions.
Keep your answers short
Two or three sentences at most. Answer the question in the first sentence, explain it in the second and third sentences, and that’s all. Stop, and wait for the next question. The more you say, the more you’re likely to regret saying it.
Headline your answer
State your conclusion first, then follow up with details as time allows. Such “headlining” is critical for broadcast media to ensure that your most important points are made during typically brief interviews.
Tell the truth; never speculate; it’s ok to say you don’t know
It’s human nature to try to talk your way out of something you are not sure of, especially if you’re nervous ‑‑ and you will be. If you don’t know the answer, the most intelligent response you can give the media is something along the lines of “I’m not absolutely sure. Let me check into that and get back to you.”
If the question is tough, ask a question
You may know the answer, but feel uncomfortable in responding because you’re not sure what you want to say or what the reporter is getting at. That’s the time to ask a question. “I’m not sure I understand your question,” or “That’s an interesting question, but I don’t know what it has to do with what we’ve been discussing.” What your response does is buy you time in framing your response. It also forces the reporter to rephrase the question.
Close every answer with a pleasant expression
A smile gives the reporter – and the public, if the interview is televised – the impression that you are sure of what you are saying. Another advantage of the smile is that it will be the last thing the TV viewers will see when the tape is edited.
Don’t be afraid to repeat your messages
It is perfectly all right to repeat yourself, especially if these are the most important ideas you want to convey. You need to communicate those ideas as many ways as possible because you’re never going to be sure what statements or quotes a reporter will use. Take every opportunity to express the key messages in different ways, using terms that the man on the street can relate to.
Stay on the record
Going off the record is dangerous because any good reporter will verify that information and pursue that angle, and you will not have control of the information he/she is obtaining. The key is to know the limits of what you will talk about and stick to them.
The interview is not over until the reporter leaves the premises
Making off-the-cuff remarks is a natural tendency after the last question has been asked, but they may well wind up in the story, or becoming the story. Remember that the interview is still going on until the reporter is physically gone or has hung up the phone.