Most entertainers are used to being in the spotlight – and love it! However, our experience conducting media interviews, especially with interviewees at the beginning of their careers, show that not everyone who loves the spotlight knows how to use it to their best advantage.
During an interview, the journalist’s only real purpose is to ask questions, while the interviewee must charm the audience by delivering witty and interesting answers.
The article or write-up that follows that interview – or the video production, as the case may be – is basically only as good as the answers we get.
Sounds easy enough, yet many artists and entrepreneurs struggle to show their best side when they’re in the moment. So here are five tips to ace that interview.
1. Be on Time
Most careers in the arts and entrepreneurship come with hectic and unpredictable schedules that are always changing. It’s important for both parties to take this into consideration when setting up an interview date and time, and when meeting that appointment.
When you decide to skip out on an interview without notice, that journalist might not be able to fit you in for another interview for weeks, and sometimes not at all. No matter how small the blog or company they work with, that’s a promotional opportunity lost.
2. Let the Interviewer Lead
Since you’re the highlight of the interview, it can be tempting to want to direct the conversation. Don’t. Most journalists have a planned set of questions in mind. These questions ensure they cover the relevant topics, in the allotted time.
For this reason, interviewees must understand that though they will contribute most or all of the information needed for the write-up, or video production, it’s important to let the interviewer take the lead.
3. Answer the Questions
Being interviewed can be intimidating, especially when done in person, or on camera. This can make it difficult to focus on the questions asked.
When answering, ensure that your responses are neither too blunt and short, nor too long of a rant.
Answer the question directly first, and then give a brief explanation. Witty answers and tasteful jokes are always appreciated, along with interesting stories.
4. Maintain your Privacy
One common mistake interviewees make is to disclose very personal information, or let controversial ideas slip.
Remember that once the interview starts, especially when recording, there is no such thing as ‘off the record’ and no obligation on the journalists’ part to honor that request. All ‘off the record’ statements must be made before the interview, and preferably not at all.
During interviews, many entertainers let slip some thoughts on women’s issues, politics, and their personal relationships that could result in scandal, were I the type of person to publish such information. You never know who will, so tread cautiously.
5. Request Notification when Published
I always notify interviewees when their interviews are published on my or clients’ websites that I have direct access to. If I don’t, I didn’t get notified either.
For whatever reason, this is a common occurrence in journalism, so it’s important to ask the journalist what magazine or website will publish the piece, where you can find it, and when.
If the publication plans to share the post on social media, ask them to tag you in it. The link should go to your website, and/or social media pages. That makes it easier for the publication’s fans to find you.
Media interviews are a great way to help get the word out about your talent or business, and these tips are sure to help you paint yourself in the best light possible, while also avoiding negative publicity.
Do you have a media interview coming up and need to fine-tune your skills? All it takes is one email to get the ball rolling!
11 Comments Add yours
Is it appropriate to ask for the questions ahead of time so you can be prepared? I’ve done a couple of radio interviews recently. It’s so much fun until they ask a question that stumps you.
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Some journalists will allow that, yes. If you’re represented by a publicist, then we will almost always try to get a copy of the questions beforehand.
Of course, some journalists enjoy stumping interviewees and may still throw a curb ball during the interview. If that happens, your publicist will likely advise you on how to handle it.
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