If the circumstances are right, being asked to participate in a media interview can be a big boost for your business on many levels. Your inclusion in a story is a perfect way to get your business out there. position yourself as an expert; stand out from the competition; reinforce your key brand messages; third-party secure validation; and satisfy the curiosity of current and future customers. Although most media interviews are beneficial, there can be a downside. Your contribution to the wrong story at the wrong time can damage your personal and professional reputation in ways that may take a long time to recover. Here are several questions to consider before saying “yes” to your next media interview request:
1. Does the media requesting the interview speak to your target audience: The media serve as a channel to reach your company’s target audience(s). So, if your business targets baby boomers, it might not make much sense to conduct a Teeny Bopper magazine interview or an outlet interview in Detroit if your target audience is based in Los Angeles.
2. Are you ready for the interview: If you accept a media interview, the journalist has every right to expect you to be prepared and credible. Respectfully decline the interview if you do not speak clearly about the subject of the interview or if you do not have enough time to prepare and conduct the interview appropriately.
3. Are you the best person to speak on the issue: avoid positioning yourself as an expert in a field that you are not. If you are asked to participate in an interview that is not in your league, decline or refer the reporter to someone else in your network who can handle the subject. This will help you score points with the reporter, who will respect your honesty, and your contact for giving them a platform.
4. Is the question too controversial: I’m a big fan of making the big story your story, but sometimes it’s best to avoid controversial questions. Measure the cost of commenting on these types of stories before proceeding with an interview. Some things to consider are whether or not you know the whole story; if you have a relationship with anyone involved in the controversy; possible legal implications; and most importantly, how you and your business will be perceived after the story is published.
Overall, interviews are a balancing act. To be successful, know your story, your company’s key messages, the target audience(s), and the local, national (and even international) climate. Having a good command of these areas will be a good indicator of whether you should accept an interview or politely decline.