Media Skills Trainer Lorraine Howell Offers More Tips for DIY Publicity Success with Interviews

7:00 am Media Skills Training

Today’s guest post on DIY publicity from Media Skills Training’s Lorraine Howell completes this week’s blog series on getting ready to make the most of your time in the media spotlight.  After all, preparing your story and enlisting the media to tell it are just steps one and two.  Delivering your story in a winning way during the interview is your best approach to making the most of the media opportunity and earning the favorable publicity you seek.

Take it away Lorraine!

Lorraine Howell, Media Skills Training

Lorraine Howell, Media Skills Training

The prospect of talking to a reporter intimidates a lot of people. With a few tips, tools, and strategies, you can minimize your stress levels and improve the odds of you getting your message out and having a good experience. Ninety percent of doing it well involves preparation and practice. Don’t head into an interview with the idea that you can “wing it!” That usually leads to missed opportunities.

Here are my top tips that really work:


1. Study the Media: See if you can distinguish the differences between the various media outlets. An interview on “60 Minutes” will be different from “The Today Show.” Radio is different from TV. Both of them are different from print media. In addition, the web has created a whole new media category with websites and bloggers. Notice what makes a good interview.

2. Think Like a Journalist: Look for the story angle. What questions can you anticipate? Why would anyone be interested in what you have to say? Thinking like a reporter will help you understand whether or not there is interest in your story.

3. Have a Clear Purpose: Before your contact with the media, have a clear purpose in mind. Your purpose must be more than just calling attention to you or your service. The media’s job is to provide useful information. How can you help them do their job?

4. Be Ready with 2-3 Key Messages: Keep it simple, concise and relevant. You can’t tell people everything in one interview, so make the most of it by staying focused on the most important ideas you want to communicate. Get some practical experience. Have a friend or colleague roll play with you. Hire a professional media trainer. Practice responding to all kinds of questions, including the difficult or controversial ones. Don’t “wing it!”


5. Shift Your Focus:

Treat the reporter like a potential customer or client and consider the interview a customer service situation. You have information the reporter needs. How can you give her what she wants and still get your message out? Put your focus on listening and responding.

6. Put Important Points First: You have 10 seconds or less to engage a reporter or an audience. Don’t bury the “lead!” Get to the meat of the matter as soon as possible. You can always back up and explain or give background information.

7. Bridge Back to Your Point: Don’t let questions lead you off track. Even questions from “left field” can be an opportunity to get back to your point. Use “bridging” phrases. i.e. “We’ve heard that comment before, but we prefer to look at it this way…” or “We know there are other products out there, but here’s what make us different” or, “We don’t release that information, but in general, it works like this…”

8. Develop Alternative Phrasing: Find different ways to say the same thing, then you will worry less about what to say. For example: I do media training for people who are launching a publicity tour; or, I teach people how to be more effective when speaking to the media; or, I teach people how to be more relaxed and focused so they can do effective media interviews.

9. Less is More: Don’t over explain. Answer the question, make your point and wait for the next question. i.e. If they ask you what time it is, don’t tell them how the watch works!

10. Make It a Conversation: Maintain eye contact and listen.

Big Finish and Special Offer:

No one wants to look like a deer in the headlights when talking to a reporter. It pays to get professional help for media interviews. Since 1998 I have been helping people look comfortable and confident in the media spotlight.  If you want to be ready for your 15 minutes or more of fame, please get in touch and I’ll show you the way.

And, if you send me an email at, I’ll send you a complimentary PDF version of my tips card for improving presentation skills.  This is a great companion to any media training service.   Be sure to put “Nancy’s DIY Publicity Blog” in the subject line of your email.

Thanks Lorraine for sharing these timeless and timely tips.

Be sure to visit the Media Skills Training website and Lorraine’s blog to benefit from her latest posts about media and presentation skills training so your do-it-yourself publicity efforts will be well served when the media comes to call.

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