Talking to the media

  • Have very broad but shallow understanding of the world
  • You can't expect them to understand many of the issues you deal with, even journalists for specialist publications are often hired from a pool of generalist journalists
  • Talk to them as you would explaining to friends who are not involved with your subject

Journalists are looking for the human angle in what you are doing, how it relates to their audience. Good journalists are also looking for trouble.

Talk in stories - “the other day I was playing around with this and .. such and such happened” this is much easier for people to relate to than abstract descriptions.

  • Have a very small number of key points you want to express in your head - 2-3 max for short interviews
  • Always ask who the audience is, and talk to them, not the journalist
  • Always ask who else will be present in an interview (sometimes they get people with differing opinions to share the time, you'll need to be prepared)
  • Absolutely no jargon

A good way to prepare for an interview is to make a list of all the bad things that someone could possibly say about your story - be exhaustive, as you want to make sure they can't possibly mention something you haven't thought of, and catch you off guard.

Then make an exhaustive list of all the good things about your story.

Then draw lines between the bad items and the good items, and you have a way to move from bad to good from anything they can come up with.

There are 2 types

  • Interviewer present with you - don't look at the camera
  • “Down the wire” - to an interviewer in a studio, try to look into the camera at all times - if you look from side to side you look shifty. If you feel uncomfortable and have to look away, look slightly above the camera lens.

You will be asked some silly questions at the start for them to get the sound levels right

  • Always ask who the audience is
  • Ask what the first question is going to be (you are allowed to do this)

Try to lead the interview, you do this by getting something really interesting in the first thing you say, then the interviewer will move away from the questions they have thought of and just ask you about that. Journalists like this too, as it means you tell them the story to write rather than the other way round, and it's more interesting.

  • talking_to_the_media.txt
  • Last modified: 2009-03-17 15:11
  • by davegriffiths