Media Tips

  • Ensure that you’ve done your homework in advance; and your PR firm has prepared a comprehensive briefing book that includes potential questions with suggested answers, and background on the interviewer.
  • Speak in personal terms: Rather than “the company,” or “we,” which can sound somewhat overbearing, use “I.”
  • Relax and build rapport.
  • While various corporate, competitive or regulatory issues may preclude answers to certain questions, all questions are fair game. And, treat those that seem naïve without sarcasm or condescension.
  • Don’t bluff. If there’s a question posed you can’t answer, say so and be brief about it.
  • Avoid rambling; be succinct and don’t pursue subjects in which you are not thoroughly briefed.
  • Tell the truth. Seems simple, but it often slides with evasiveness or “staying on message.” Journalists are generally perceptive and good at detecting evasion or sins of omission.
  • If you decline to answer a question, explain why.
  • If you promise information will be forthcoming, ensure that it is and with dispatch. Remember, reporters work on deadlines. And the convenience of “forgetting” to follow up is a bit like “the dog ate my homework.”
  • Facts drive an interview. Have them ready, with examples.
  • There is no such thing as “off the record.” If you don’t want to see it in print, don’t say it, especially in an interview on a complex topic. Most reporters will honor an “off the record” stipulation, but there are some who may not and it simply isn’t worth taking the risk, even if the reporter agrees to a “not for attribution” caveat. If it’s shape, color or finesse with the media you may require, rely on the judgement of your PR firm.

Stern And Company
Strategic Communications
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