Public Relations for Business Startups: The Press Interview

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Interviews are the holy grail of public relations. When your media contact decides that you are the expert they want to talk to, all of the time spent crafting and distributing press releases has paid off. However, preparing yourself for an effective interview is critical and requires sufficient time and attention to get it right.

The first thing you need to know is what exactly the journalist is looking to cover. Whatever the topic, over-prepare yourself to discuss it at length, if necessary. Consider carefully whether you want to refer to any documents during the interview.

If you do, the reporter will want to take a copy with them. If there is anything you want kept "off the record," don't say it. You can't unring a bell, and a good reporter will hunt down a different source for any information they agree to keep "off the record" in the interview with you.

Don't plan to sneak in your own agenda. It is unlikely that the interviewer will find this charming, and you may find yourself crossed off their list of experts. If the subject is very specific and another member of your staff is more familiar with it, keep them handy during the interview. "I don't know." is a bad answer, but "I can find out right now." shows quality leadership.

Find out if the interview will be filmed or photographed. If so, be sure your outfit reflects the image of your company, down to your shoes. Stripes tend to cause a distortion on video, so solids are a better choice. Don't assume you will have an opportunity to pose or have any input on the picture they use -- you likely won't. Be "on" throughout the interview, and be sure you sound like the expert they want to interview.

Self-confidence is critical and should be reflected in your responses. Don't be overly accommodating to the reporter. Keep the interview moving along as much as possible. Your time is valuable and you are helping them as much as they are helping you.

Being asked for an interview is a great accomplishment. It means that the gatekeeper of information finds you and your business relevant to their audience and worthy of free marketing. These opportunities are relatively rare, so do the preparation work to take full advantage when you get the chance to give a press interview.

About the Author-K. MacKillop, a serial entrepreneur, is founder of LaunchX and authors a small business startup blog. The LaunchX System is designed to help entrepreneurs start a business the right way. Visit LaunchX.com for a free workbook to help you choose a business idea.

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