Communicating with the Media Amid COVID-19

Right now, there are a lot of reporters looking for different ways to cover COVID-19 and all of the related economic, health and mental health crises associated with it. This means it will be the first time many companies’ CEOs and spokespeople will be doing media interviews. When preparing for interviews, the first step is to look at how the interview will be taking place. There are four different types of interviews:

Email Interview

For these types of interviews, the reporter sends you questions via email and you have time to think, write, and revise answers. Take the opportunity to have someone else review your answers and provide feedback.

Phone Interview

During these interviews, you are speaking live with a reporter over the phone. In this situation, you have the opportunity to have notes in front of you, so take the time to organize your key messages in a way that works best for you. Keep in mind: reporters are most likely taking notes on your responses, so there may be breaks of silence. Let them finish before the next question.

In-person Interview

You are speaking live with a reporter. With these opportunities, you may also be able to give a tour. For these interviews, be sure to plan talking points in advance and, if giving a tour, plan a route in advance. Make a good impression by offering the reporter water or coffee; depending on the nature of the interview, snacks or a light meal may be appropriate. 

TV/Radio Broadcast Interview

These interviews are likely the quickest and most impactful interviews. In advance, you should prepare two to three key points you want to communicate and stick to them. Answers should be more concise, but still emphasizing these points. Since it is a live broadcast, be aware of your clothes, gestures, facial expressions, and tone. 

Making the Most of Your Interview

After you know which type of interview you will be having, it’s time to prepare your talking points and messaging. Here are our recommendations for making the most of any interviews:

Convey Your Message

The most important thing to remember before going into an interview is that your job is not to answer their questions, but rather deliver your messages. Before you partake in any email, phone, or video interviews, write out the three most important things you want to communicate during your interview. This should be information that your audience needs to hear, and/or news that your company needs to communicate. 

Embrace the Unknown

It’s vital to know that it is OK to say that you are unsure or don’t know the answer to a reporter’s question. Most reporters are doing the best they can to cover stories in unique ways; they have pressure to produce a lot of articles and news stories. They may ask you questions that you have no knowledge or expertise on. It is OK to say that it is not your area of expertise, you don’t know the answer, or that you will check on it and get back to them.

Silence is OK

It is crucial to try not to fill the silence during a media interview, especially when it is on the phone. If you give a great answer or deliver your message in a unique and effective way, the reporter likely will not respond immediately because they are taking notes or getting ready for the next interview question. You have to be comfortable with silence, because everytime someone speaks to fill silence, they usually say something they didn’t mean to say. This can throw off the interview and get in the way of delivering key messages. 

Need Help Talking to Media?

Looking for more advice on how to talk to the media during this challenging time? Let us know at hello@slicecommunications.com. We’re here to help.

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