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B2B Marketing: How to Ace a Media Interview

So, it’s your big chance to do an a media interview…now what?While we like to think of this as the Age of Conversation (kudos to blogger Valeria Maltoni for popularizing the term), a media interview isn’t conversation. Of course, you want to pleasant and friendly, but be realistic: a media person/blogger has one set of objectives and they are unlikely to be yours.A media person wants to get a story. Typically the media story diverges from the one you or your company want told. In many cases, the story will have a slant.

So, it’s your big chance to do an a media interview…now what?While we like to think of this as the Age of Conversation (kudos to blogger Valeria Maltoni for popularizing the term), a media interview isn’t conversation. Of course, you want to pleasant and friendly, but be realistic: a media person/blogger has one set of objectives and they are unlikely to be yours.A media person wants to get a story. Typically the media story diverges from the one you or your company want told. In many cases, the story will have a slant. Traditional media in fairness try to present both sides of the story but despite that one may predominate.  Remember that the classical definition of a story includes a protagonist and an antagonist.  The clash of the two is what makes drama.  A good media person in telling a story wants to recreate that conflict. It more accurately represents the multidimensional truth and makes better copy. Warm and fuzzy typically means boring.All of which means you need to be aware of all sides of a story when you talk to the media. Here are some questions to think about when you do an interview: Is there any negative slant? An opponent who can claim to do what you do better? Anyone who can question your work’s validity?  Now obviously you don’t want to bring to light any negativity. But be sure to put your best foot forward so that any possible attack is proactively defended against. Better yet, learn to think like a strategist. Or a smart politician.Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re in a manufacturing business where some chemical concerns might arise. The best way to deal with this is to clearly explain what you’re doing and why it’s valuable – the positive story while quelling any nascent concerns. You don’t want to dwell on any possible negatives; however, you want to be sure your side of the story gets told.  That means mentioning the extra quality control you use or other validating points to insure your meeting or exceeding all safety requirements in order to deliver this needed product.  You don’t want to belabor the point and look defensive but simply state the facts. Obviously, if a media person comes back to the issue, you’ll want to go into greater detail. But in the meantime you want to hone in on the value you’re providing.Here is a checklist of 4 things to think about when doing a media interview:•    Be prepared. Know your talking points ahead of time.•    Have a clear message. Don’t be afraid to think like a politician. Have clear points you want to get across and repeat them several times.•    Visualize the entire story. Realize where the story may head and be prepared for all possible angles.•    Be helpful.  Don’t try to fudge a story. Provide facts, figures and material a writer can actually use.  

About the author

Wendy Marx is President of Marx Communications, an award-winning boutique B2B Public Relations agency known for turning companies and executives, including start-ups, into thought leaders. Follow her on Twitter @wendymarx and on Google+ @ plus.google.com/+wendymarx.

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