1. Speak in plain and concise language – slow down, check in. Being articulate means the audience understands you clearly and effectively. Thus, you must know your audience and speak in their language. Check in with them to make sure you are meeting their needs as you are building a relationship. Be ready with an appropriate metaphor or two – not too many. Always place the company story in context that is relevant to the reporter (business side, medical impact, new approaches, innovation). Never mention or comment on competitors.
2. “Echo-answer” the main questions. If a reporter asks: “What’s so great about your new technology?” — try to paraphrase and answer: “The great thing about our technology is…” That quote/soundbite is much more likely to be used because the answer can stand on its own without needing a “set-up” sentence in the article/story. It also helps create a succinct answer to the question.
It’s also okay to clarify questions:
- “Are you asking me X?”
- “Would you rephrase the question?”
3. Be a well, not a fountain. Allow the interviewer to dip in and draw out your responses instead of pouring forth information. Most interviewers will “lead” you into discussing the most relevant aspects of the story. In this one-on-one conversation, the reporter is the most important person as they must accurately understand your story and tell it to the world.
If you do find yourself being a well, use a statement that highlights the main point:
- “It’s important to remember that…”
- “Let me put that in perspective.”
- “Before I go any further, let me just summarize the main point…”
4. Have a concise opener and closer. The opener sets the stage for interview and should tell the reporter “what is the news and why it is important to the company and industry.” If it is a briefing, then the opener should give a brief description of the company’s technology and why it is important to the industry (We do or make X to improve Y). The closer should include a “thanks” for the reporter’s time and a passionate look forward about doing X to improve Y.
5. Always be friendly and respectful. Everyone is working to do the best job they can. Remember, reporters are generalists; you are the expert. You must make it easy for them not the other way around. Speak in terms they understand and be clear and concise.
6. Finally, nothing is ever off the record.