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How to do a great media interview

Ginger Gorman and Sue White

Oh that sinking feeling of getting a great media opportunity and walking away wishing you’d done better.

Honestly, it’s happened to the best of us. You leave the radio or TV studio kicking yourself and thinking of everything you could have said but didn’t. (Yes even though the pair of us have more than four decades of experience in the media between us, we both know the pressures of being on the other side of the microphone).

The good news is that doing a great media interview isn’t beyond your reach. In fact, it’s a skill that, with a few pointers, you can turn around quickly. The key? A little bit of media smarts, and hefty dose of preparation.

Getting good at giving a great media interview is worth the time investment: being a great media performer delivers huge benefits for individuals, small business people, and organisations.

First, there’s the monetary gain: a higher media profile will often increase sales for your business or product. Then, there’s credibility. People with a good media presence often quickly solidify their reputation as an expert in their field. Repeat work is out there for those who do it well: if you’re smart and engaging on-air talent (that’s what journalists call interviewees!), you’ll be asked back again and again, so all of this gets even easier after you have a few successes under your belt.

So, how DO you shine in an interview? Whether it’s print, radio, TV or online, here are our five top tips to help you nail your next interview.

  1. Don’t skimp on the prep

The most crucial thing is to prepare beforehand. Everyone prepares differently: we believe there are numerous steps to doing it well, but the key is twofold. Think about your three points (we’ll tell you why below), and ALSO have a think about how you’ll answer the “difficult” question (smart media talent knows there’ll always be one). 

  1. Write down your three main points

If you could only say three things, what would those be? It’s often hard to get more across than this – better to do three things well than try to pack too much in. Remember, your three points AREN’T there so you can act like a pollie and never deviate from them: it’s less about being on message and more about crystallising your thoughts and keeping your interview on track. 

  1. In a radio or TV interview, use the journalist or presenter’s name

There’s nothing like the personal touch. Journos are people too, and using their name makes you seem relaxed and confident (if you’re not, we can help!). Even if you can’t manage using their name, be yourself. If you are authentic, engaging and likable people will connect to you and your message more easily.

  1. Before a radio or TV interview, ask how long you’ll have

A three-minute interview on morning television is very different to a 15-minute radio segment on an afternoon program: in one, you have very little time to divert to side plots, so you need to get your message out really efficiently. In a longer interview, a little bit more context or depth (not too much though) can add something positive to your contribution. 

  1. Know the publication/media outlet

Are they friendly/positive or hard nosed and analytical? Equally importantly, know the journalist, as well as the section or segment they write for: each have different goals for what they are trying to achieve. Understanding their length/tone/style/approach will give you a good starting point for thinking about the kinds of things you’ll be asked. For example, a busy breakfast radio presenter will want different information to a feature writer writing for a major newspaper’s magazine: knowing the difference helps you tailor what you talk about in your allocated time.

These tips should get you started. But if you’re keen to really nail your next interview, to understand how to tell your story in the media on all the different platforms (TV, radio, print and online) AND to put your newfound skills into practice (yes, via a grilling from two working journalists), book into Canberra’s upcoming Media Bootcamp.

This one-day, personalised and intensive media training Wednesday 25 October has just a few spots left, so be quick, as the next opportunity to work with us is 2018.

Find more information about us and “Media Bootcamp” here and if you mention “HerCanberra” when you book, we’ll give you a $100 discount.

HerCanberra is a proud supporter of Media Bootcamp.

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Ginger Gorman

Ginger Gorman is a fearless and multi award-winning social justice journalist. She has an innate ability to connect and communicate with some of the most interesting and marginalised people in our community. Ginger works hard to translate those untold stories into powerful and insightful journalism. She regularly writes stories, makes radio and TV for media outlets such as: news.com.au, Fairfax online, The Guardian, The Big Smoke, HerCanberra and the ABC. You can follow Ginger on Twitter @GingerGorman. More about the Author

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Sue White

Sue White is an Australian freelance journalist whose work has been published everywhere from ABC to Vogue. She writes weekly for the SMH and The Age, and has interviewed everyone from media doyenne Ita Buttrose through to Julian Assange’s lawyer. Sue also knows life on the other side of the microphone, and is currently the resident travel writing expert on ABC Evenings. Before choosing journalism ten years ago, Sue spent a decade as a communications specialist for organisations including The University of Sydney’s George Institute and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. Today, government bodies and businesses often snap up her copywriting skills. More about the Author

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