What you say can or will be held against you, should you not take up the challenge to prepare for an interview. In the digital age, everything you say lives on forever, so, preparing for an interview should not be taken lightly. You should spend enough time getting up to speed and doing the due diligence necessary to ace a media interview. To help you, here are five tips for anyone getting ready for a media interview.

1. Do your Research.
Be prepared for your media interview by spending some time exploring the internet. Do your research, and don’t just show up. Look at the social media channels of the person you are talking to before you meet them and identify what they have recently written about (or tweeted about), and then look at their LinkedIn profile to better understand who this person is and what they are all about. Spend time to get briefed up on the individual.

2. Be Prepared.
This may be an obvious first step when you agree to do an interview, but it is a critical step nevertheless. Don’t just think that knowing about your company or brand will be enough. Think about the tough questions they might ask and how you might react if these questions are actually asked – consider your tone of voice and how you will respond, consider what your body language and mannerisms will look like, and of course, focus on the answers. Most of the time we don’t ever notice our mannerisms, but almost always notice someone else’s body language. So be prepared to demonstrate your non-verbal communication as well as your verbal remarks. As for your verbal remarks, go into the interview with a set of top line messages that you want to get across in the interview. Usually three will do the trick.

3. Stay Professional and focused
Practice your talking points so that you can stay on track even when you the interviewer asks open ended questions or questions you don’t want to elaborate on. Know your intent for this interview. Simply put, don’t offer anything you don’t want reported. Stay positive when talking about your company, client or staff throughout the interview and always take the high road—never talk negatively about your competition.

4. Use your online presence to your advantage.
Based on PRGN’s recent CEO survey, it is known that the media and bloggers spend time getting to know you online before they talk to you. Use this to your advantage—by posting something relevant on one or all your social media channels to further enforce your messaging points. By aligning your content with what you want your brand or company’s message to be, you can help guide the media to something you want them to focus on prior to your interview. If you don’t have any social media presence, well then, the time is right to open a LinkedIn or Twitter account.

5. Remember the audience.
Why did you decide to do this interview? Try and remember your purpose throughout the interview. If there is a specific message you are trying to convey in this interview don’t be afraid to keep it at the forefront while giving the interview. Even more so, you can take time to circle back and clarify or emphasize a point that you feel is important to the specific audience. When the reporter concludes the interview—“do you have anything else to add?”—use this time to talk to your audience, recite your top three key messages and tell people where to go for more information (aka your website).

Follow these five steps and you’ll be well on your way to a more thoughtful conversation and media interview.

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