The common result of any successful media relations campaign is landing an interview. As you prepare for a media interview, it is important to practice for the many different types of common media interview questions. It’s also critical to have key messages prepared that you can return to in your answers to ensure you get your most relevant points across. As the public relations practitioner and media trainer Virgil Scudder said, “Winners come in with a story to tell and know how to tell it. Answering questions is like paying a toll on a toll road. You have to do it, but you’re there to take a trip.”
Some common types of media questions are:
– Open: This is a question that doesn’t have a simple or yes or no answer. The answer could go in many different directions. When asked this type of question, it’s important to leverage your key messages and provide a clear and concise answer. An example of an open question is “How is your company guided by its values?”
-Closed: This type of question has a simple answer or can be answered by yes or no answer. These can still be a good opportunity to bridge to your key messaging. An example of a closed question is “How many employees does your organization employ?
-Loaded: A loaded question is often asked in a negative or leading way, but you don’t have to be taken down a hostile path. Responding in a positive way and using your key messages can avoid accidently saying something you don’t want to see in print. An example of a loaded question is “Wouldn’t you say your organization has a bad reputation in the industry?
-Springboard: A springboard question is used as a jumping off point and can go in many different directions. It’s important to ensure that you stick to your key messages and don’t end up on a tangent and accidently sharing information you didn’t mean to. When you’ve answered the question, stop and wait for the next one to be asked. An example of a springboard question is “Tell me about your organization.”
-Rumour mongering: With this type of question, the journalist is trying to get you to respond to a rumour or speculation. Don’t take the bait. Stick to your key messages and only comment on what you know to be true. Don’t try and guess who shared the information or speculate on the information. An example of rumour mongering is “A former employee told us that…”
While media interviews can be stressful, taking the time to create strong key messages and prepare can increase your chances of successfully representing yourself and your organization in a positive way.