How to stay on message during 5, 10 or 20 media interviews in a row

September 28, 2013
 

By: The Metis data center team
 
Photo credit: Roger H. Goun (Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution license)
Raise your hand if you've ever faced this situation: you have a product coming out (or a new service, or a new company), and your persistent efforts to schedule pre-briefings ahead of the news pay off – big time. Your spokesperson will have to do a whole bunch of interviews in a short period of time. Will the last be as good as the first? Will she be able to stay on message through every conversation? Will she be able to tailor her comments to each reporter's interests and readership?
We see companies face this situation often. For example, when one of our clients launched a new product version at VMworld last year, we approached the media in advance of the show and scheduled 23 briefings for the company before and during the show. All that work resulted in 16 pieces of coverage – 11 of them standalone articles – and a finalist spot for a Best of Show award. What happened during those briefings was essential to the ultimate reception for the news.
Here are some of the tips we give executives when they face five, 10 or 20 press briefings in a row:
1. Media train your product marketing managers or the spokespeople taking the briefings. This is especially important in the data center market, where you should expect to field 20 interviews for significant news.
2. Provide a short FAQ to your spokespeople and do a few run-throughs. Make sure they know which messages about the launch should not be relayed publicly.
3. Don't use more than 10 slides. That should be enough to share visuals – any more and you will lose the attention of your listener. Slides can also get in the way of actual discussion, which often yields better material for the reporter.
4. Show visuals like diagrams or infographics. This can be particularly helpful when the news is very technical.
5. Engage and establish a relationship; don't dictate. You want reporters and analysts to think of you as a source who can provide an industry perspective.
6. Research reporters and analysts or review your PR team's briefing pages so you know the interviewers' audiences, and then tailor messages toward them instead of giving the same old, boring presentation 20 times.
7. Convey an industry perspective and don't just advertise your product.
8. Relax. If you're supported by the right PR team, they're going to follow up with everyone with whom you speak to offer additional information, clear up any lingering questions and pin down coverage.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of giving an interview?

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