Although PRSSA National Conference has come to an end, there are still plenty of helpful insights to share from our experience in Washington, DC. Sessions highlighted an array of public relations topics with prominent speakers from Ketchum, Edelman, the Smithsonian and even Neiman Marcus. Also among those notable speakers was JRMComm President and Temple University alum Jason Mollica, who spoke to a packed house on the dos and don’ts of media relations. Entitled “Understanding What the Media Want,” his session included how to effectively communicate with media and even a few helpful steps of pitching. But the topic that stood out most to me was his tips for preparing your client (or even yourself) for a media interview.
(Photo by PRowl staff member Shaun Luberski)
In classes and internships, we learn how to communicate with the media on behalf of our client through press releases or social media. But what happens when we need to let the client speak for themselves? Here are a few of Jason’s tips for executing a successful interview with the media.
- Pick a spokesperson. Have a knowledgeable and quotable spokesperson that is accessible to the media. If possible, have the interview conducted in a location that is comfortable for the spokesperson; a retail company’s CEO in one of their stores, for example.
- Craft a key message. A key message that is consistent throughout the interview will allow for more effective communication.
- Create talking points. By creating talking points, the interviewee is able to stay on track and avoid rambling. This also helps to keep answer short, allowing for better quotability.
- Take charge. It’s important to take charge when answering questions from the media. They will potentially ask tough or controversial questions but the interviewer has control to frame the message in their responses.
- Never go off the record. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Jason’s advice, “if you don’t want it on the news, don’t say it.”
There are a few other key takeaways from this session including the importance of doing your research, knowing your audience and, of course, the need to always be transparent.