You never want to go into a media interview, whether in person or over the phone, without a clear-cut media message in mind. I define a media message as something you can say in 30 seconds that includes the three key points you want to convey to your audience. You have a plan or a goal for everything else you do in business; you should have such a goal for media interviews, too.
“But TJ, there is no time. Reporters call me directly and I have to answer them off the top of my head.”
No, you don’t. Whenever a reporter calls you, the first thing you should do is find out what the interview topic is. Then ask the reporter, “What is your deadline?” Inform the reporter that you are on another call or in a meeting (even if it is with yourself), but that you will be happy to grant the interview before the deadline. The reporter’s deadline may be in 10 minutes, but at least that will give you 5 minutes to prepare your message.
Never ever, ever talk to reporters without giving yourself time to prepare your message. This will not only save you time in the long run, but it will also help you get your message out more effectively, as your interviews will be shorter and more productive.
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