Dear Tammy: My travel agency business is going really well and my marketing and public relations campaign is starting to pay off. I’m getting clients and booking trips.
So, what’s the problem? I’ve attracted the attention of the media and while that sounds great, it terrifies me. I’m nervous about being misquoted and I feel like I stumble in interviews. I see that you do a lot of interviews for print and you’re on television, so I’d like to know if you have any tips for me.
First of all, congratulations because your PR and marketing campaign really seems to be working well. Being interviewed by the press can be a little intimidating, but don’t let it be. With a little practice, you’ll be a media pro before you know it. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Rehearse: Have a friend or co-worker ask you questions that you might be asked by a reporter. Practice your responses, but don’t memorize. You don’t want to seem over-rehearsed. Just practice until you’re comfortable talking about your business and the industry.
Research: If the reporter has given you an idea of what you’re going to be interviewed on, take a few notes before your interview. For example, let’s say that a magazine reporter will be calling to talk about the top five island destinations for summer travel. Choose your five favorites and write out a few notes as to why they made your list.
Of course, this method works great for radio and magazine interviews, but if you’re going to be on television, you’re not going to be able to write out notes. Do your best to remember your facts about each island so you can explain your answers.
Talk in sound bites: If you are on television or radio, keep your answers relatively short. Long-winded responses aren’t necessary. However, if you are doing an interview with a magazine reporter, you can probably go into more detail and they will extract what they want for their story.
Stop promoting: Overall, the media does a great job getting the name of your business out there. Do not start every answer with, “At my business, Ann’s Travel,” or you will most likely be edited. They aren’t looking for an interview filled with ads. If you’ve written a travel book, make sure that you do not respond to every question with “That’s in my book.” Give the reporter the information they need to do their segment or article on you. If they wanted to just take it out of your book, they wouldn’t have contacted you directly.
Follow up: Don’t annoy the media. If they do not respond to your press release, following up once is fine. After that, assume they aren’t interested. However, if they do respond, follow up immediately because they are often on tight deadlines.
Oh, and if you don’t want something quoted—don’t say it!