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Media Training in Minutes: The Pre-Interview Prep Call

Finding time for media training can be difficult. It’s one task on a massive to-do list.

However, some of the best value-adds we can bring to a client relationship take virtually no time at all. Seconds, even.

These, for instance:

  • Sending readership demographics right before an interview. (thirty seconds)
  • Discussing what to wear or not wear before a TV interview. (five minutes)
  • Emailing one or two points of constructive feedback immediately following an interview. (two minutes)

Throwing in that little touch of above-and-beyond initiative makes something magical happen. CLIENT GRATITUDE.

Let me tell you, grateful clients are A DELIGHT to work with. You feel more appreciated and they value you for making their professional life a little bit easier.

A sprinkling of client love is never a bad thing, right? 

Double duty tasks are even better, when they serve multiple purposes. One of my favorites? Calling a client 10-15 minutes before a media interview to make sure they’re prepped and ready to go.

Many PR pros don’t think of it, but I’ve found it to be one of those uber-fast tasks that reaps a juicy reward.

Benefits of a Quick Pre-Interview Phone Call

Because we deal with media every single day, we can take for granted how easily dealing with media can be for us, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t for most of our clients. It’s new to them.

When we can add in a simple habit that increases their comfort level during that interview, it benefits everyone. It can even be as simple as a quick phone call.

For the last decade or so, I’ve made a habit of calling clients early before a media interview to prep them for it. Here’s why.

It’s an opportunity to review key message points. You can throw simple questions at them to see how they respond, and make sure their answers are solid.

If you take five minutes before the client prep call to think about what the reporter might ask, and come up with your own message points to discuss with the client during your prep call, it also becomes an instant coaching session.

You are helping them solidify the key message points, instead of expecting them to come up with them.

What you discuss is top-of-mind going into the interview. Because you just discussed it, they’re thinking about those message points and prepped to respond based on that practice. It’s a way to guide the interview subliminally without actually speaking, because what you discussed beforehand is going to come out their mouth during the “real” interview.

Trust me, it’s far better than going in cold and hoping for the best, or putting so much time between your discussion about message points and the interview that they’re forgotten.

It ensures they have a clear understanding of the publication and its audience. The prep interview is an ideal time to remind them about the publication’s focus, its audience and any details about the interviewing journalist they might need to know.

It prevents your client from throwing out the right message points, but at a level too sophisticated for the audience (jargon alert!) or from the wrong perspective.

Their confidence is boosted, resulting in a better interview. When your client feels prepared for the interview, quality goes up. Their confidence inspires smarter, more thoughtful responses, and the reporter is validated for choosing them as an interview source.

You know exactly when to prompt them. Since you know what they are going to say, and you’ve heard things you liked during the prep interview, you can step in and prompt the client when a message point is missed.

For example, if it’s a trends interview and they forgot a really fabulous trend discussed during the prep call, you’ll know about it. You can intervene with something like, “Jack (the client), you said something recently about a new XYZ trend that Susan (the reporter) might find interesting. Can you talk about it just for a moment?”  This intervention serves as a reminder to the client and a graceful bridge over to the new topic.

Media interview preparation makes the difference between one quote or sound bite versus dominating the article. Good interviews make good editorial, bad interviews give the journalist nothing to use.

Do you have a helpful media training tip to share? I’d love to hear it!



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