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Media Friend or Foe?

It was great to be interviewed by Karen Rocznik of CTV last week on Google adwords.  She is a true professional and a credit to the media community.  Karen was upfront and candid about what she wanted from me as an expert, and I would not hesitate to work with her again if asked.

I’ve been lucky (or unlucky) to have been interviewed many times by the media.  I always thought that reporters would tell it like it is, and give the straight goods when a story was published.

Wrong. (sometimes)

On rare occasions members of the media have come to my door (or my customers) with hidden agendas.  They are looking for “sound bites” that could not necessarily be in your best interests.  To avoid getting singed in a media experience,I am now very cautious when I am giving an interview.  I try very hard to understand the scope and angle that the reporter may be trying to achieve and I am extra sensitive to any hint of possible extra motives.

When someone asks for an interview as an owner of a Winnipeg Business, try to quiz the reporter to understand the context so that you have an idea of how you fit into the big picture.  If you are not comfortable with the PR angle, you are under no obligation to give an interview.  If you do decide to go ahead, here are some quick tips to help you get through unscathed.

1. Look your best – take a quick run to a mirror to ensure that nothing is out of place.

2. Keep your answers short and to the point.  Often rambling on will disclose something to the interviewer that you may not want to share

3. If you don’t like the question, redirect your answer to a topic that you want to cover that may be related. (this is often harder than it appears)

4. Be confident in your answers, and be prepared for follow up questions – that’s the reporters job to dig deeper.

5. Don’t assume that your whole sentence will be published.  Sound bites may be used and not reflect the true context of your meaning.

6. Ask to hear / see the finished piece before it is published.  Usually this won’t be granted – but is doesn’t hurt to ask

7. Make sure you have the right to use the piece in your future marketing.  Get this in writing.

8. Don’t be disappointed if they only use 10 seconds of your 40 minute interview.  You may be only a small piece of the big picture.

9. Promote your seconds of fame to your social media network.  Blog, tweet, or send an email.

10. If the piece turned out as you expected, send a quick thank you note to the reporter, and offer your services again if required.

My last interview with Karen at CTV was a great experience.  She was very professional and didn’t have any surprises.  I wish all reporters shared her integrity.


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