Before every media interview, you must decide what your goal is. The vast majority of the time most people are better off focusing on a specific, 3-part message. However, they may be times when you are a part of a larger trend or news-related story where you don’t really have a specific message you care about. In these situations, you may have the following goals:
- You simply want to come across as an intelligent industry expert.
- You want to be seen as someone who has provocative and innovative ideas.
- You want to solidify your reputation in the eyes of the reporter as someone who is a reliable interviewee.
- You want to get quotes in the story to build your name ID.
- You want to get better placements for your quotes than your competitors get.
- You want to give the reporter so many great quotes that you squeeze your competitors entirely out of the story.
For example, when a reporter calls me to ask my opinion on an Oil executive’s PR blunders or to rate the President’s Oval Office speech to the world, it is obvious the story isn’t about me. The reporter may or may not use me as a source and it is unlikely to matter a great deal to the reporter’s career. The chances of me getting multiple positive messages promoting my latest book or my company are slim. However, my chances of getting interesting and relevant quotes about the issue and that portray me in a positive light are very high. And the chances of me giving a quote that could be damaging to my career are extraordinarily low. In this case, my worst night mare is not getting quoted and seeing one of my competitors quoted.
So in this case, I adapt a completely different media strategy. In these situations, I don’t focus on a simple, three part message; Instead, I am going for a complete editorial real estate grab. I am trying to cover as many interesting insights and sound bites as possible. I’m trying to create to oratorical equivalent of the Bellagio Dinner Buffet in Las Vegas. I want the reporter to be so overwhelmed with the choices of juicy sound bites I deliver that the/she is too stuffed and tired to even call another source.
The key to this is being able to intellectualize your answers while thinking and at the same time re-processing your answers into colorful sound bites. It’s helpful to think in terms of the gut and raw emotions—it’s impossible not to speak in sound bites in this situation. I have internalized the 10 key sound bite speech patterns so it is easy for me to turn in on and off at will. You may want to keep a simple list of the 10 elements in front of you.
A word of warning is needed here: this is not for beginners. If you aren’t careful you can get yourself in a whole lot of trouble here by saying something foolish that can stain your reputation. Don’t try this at home kids! Make sure you have done more than a hundred interviews the old fashioned way before you attempt the editorial real estate land grab. But if you do decide to go for it, then go all the way: turn your mouth into one big sound bite spigot and make sure the reporter has every single media morsel he she could dream of.
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