A media interview can mean many things to different people – it may bring to mind a Law-and-Order- style press conference held on courthouse steps, or perhaps ESPN’s primetime Lebron James interview when he announced he was taking his talents to South Beach (cue the eye roll), or maybe just a simple exchange between a local reporter and an elected city official. Whatever your mental image may be, at its core, a media interview is an exchange of information between an expert subject and a member of the media.

At LHG, we see a media interview as a powerful conduit to highlight a client’s strengths and capabilities on a given topic. It offers the opportunity for a subject to establish themselves and their company as an industry thought leader and to connect with audiences in a credible, relevant way.

Without the proper training, however, an interview can result in undesirable news coverage, which can negatively affect an individual’s or a company’s reputation. You may be familiar with instances of interviews gone wrong, where perhaps the subject reveals too much, or the interviewer is uninformed and asks irrelevant questions. An experienced public relations firm recognizes the potential value (and risk) associated with speaking one-on-one with reporters. One of the first actions LHG takes when working with new clients is to equip spokespeople with the interview techniques needed for a successful interview. This includes practicing key messages and preparing for tricky situations that might arise during an interview.

Below are some tips and tricks we share with our clients to communicate clearly and effectively in order to score a home-run interview:


  1. Bridge your messaging. Bridging is the most important tool you possess in any interview situation. Reporters sometimes ask questions or bring up topics that a subject would rather not discuss. To avoid sensitive topics without appearing to dodge questions, interview subjects can utilize message bridging as a way to ensure key messages are communicated effectively. Verbal bridging is a word, phrase, or sentence that transitions you from the reporter’s question to your key message. To accomplish this, an interview subject should answer the given question, then bridge to the key message.

  Examples of how to bridge to the story you want to tell:

  • The most important thing is…
  • Before we change topics, let me add…
  • What I think your readers are most curious about is…


  1. There is no such thing as “off the record” or “on background.” Any time you get asked a question by the press, you are on record – even if it’s just a friendly chat over coffee or if the camera isn’t on.

Additionally, reporters sometimes transition into a more friendly, conversational tone of voice towards the end of an interview, making the subject feel as though he or          she can speak more freely because the interview is over. However, when interacting with a member of the media, always act and speak as if a camera or voice recorder is    rolling. This eliminates the element of surprise when the article is published or when the broadcast airs.

  1. Clear, concise answers work best. Avoid industry jargon, tech speak and buzz words – provide your answer in simple, plain English as often as possible. Passionate professionals sometimes forget that outsiders aren’t well-versed in industry terms, or “inside baseball” language. We equip clients with a media kit that includes concise messaging that is most appropriate for the media outlet’s audience. From industry trade publications to national consumer outlets, communicating with clear statements decreases the chance that a reporter or reader will misinterpret your answers.


  1. Practice, practice, practice. And then practice some more! Review your key messages forward and backward out loud until you feel 100 percent comfortable with your message points, especially the subjects you’d rather avoid. Signs of anxiety or discomfort may signal a reporter to dive further into certain subject areas in which you want to steer clear.


  1. Anticipate the questions. Yes, even the hard ones! As marketing and public relations pros, we are constantly anticipating and prepping our clients for what to expect. It’s better to predict and practice answering unsavory questions than to be blind sighted with no game plan. LHG prepares our clients with a list of potentially unpleasant questions that may be asked along with concise answers to tackle them head and to bridge to a key message.

Don’t let us scare you! Every interview, not matter how small or big, is an opportunity to communicate your message. The above tips and tricks are just a glimpse into how LHG arms our clients and prepares them for speaking with anyone, not just the media. Corporate communications affect how you and your company are perceived, which is reflected to all stakeholders: employees, customers, potential investors and community members. The team at LHG has decades of media relations and media training experience working with outlets of all types, from hospitality and travel trade publications to the New York Times. Having a strong team behind you is the real secret weapon when it comes to mastering the media interview.