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Managing reporter calls and media interviews: Pointers for success

By Marjorie Comer

Handle reporter calls and media interviews with tact and skill


A woman on a phone call.Sometimes, a company might receive an unexpected call from individuals identifying themselves as news reporters. Organization spokespersons attend media interviews to represent their brand in the media. However, if the company representatives aren’t adequately trained for such situations, such engagement might end negatively.


Here’s how to successfully deal with reporter calls and handle media interviews.


Audio: Listen to this article.


How to deal with reporter calls

When a call comes through for someone claiming to be a reporter and seeking information, quickly connect them to the right person. This means pre-establishing proper protocols and processes for managing such calls to ensure you give the best possible response.


When they happen to connect with the right person initially, they will be happy! However, if they reach the wrong person initially, politely request their name and contact details so the right person can reach them.


Because they’re working on a tight deadline with limited resources, they might insist on obtaining or sourcing the desired information from you even after you say you aren’t the right person to contact. If this happens, emphasize that you want to help them and that someone else handles that area of responsibility. Then, ask them again for their name and contact details so the right person can contact them.


Key information you should collect from the reporter includes:

  • Their name
  • The media outlet they work with
  • Phone number and email address
  • Information they need
  • Specific questions they might have
  • The deadline

These tips will help you address the reporters’ calls more efficiently. The next step is to learn how to ace the media interviews that might result from these reporter calls.     


Keys to success in a media interview

When the right spokesperson for a brand gets back to a reporter and everything works out fine, the reporter will typically begin their news story. News interviews are a core part of media reporting. But, did you know that without media training, a lot can go wrong?


What, then, does it take to knock it out of the park with a media interview? 


Keep reading.


1. Do your due diligence:

When gearing up for the interview, scour the internet for info on the reporter and the media outlet. Also, find out what questions the reporter might throw your way, and be sure you understand the perspectives. Then, you can work on your answers.


2. Prepare:

Firstly, find out how the interview will be conducted. If virtual, make sure the phone or computer you’re using is fully charged and even plugged to power to avoid any hiccups. We also recommend using a noise-canceling headset in case the environment isn’t entirely quiet.


The next step is to develop your message. Have a fine understanding of the who, what, where, when, why, and how. Gear up for tough questions and make good use of statistics and illustrations in your responses. Utilize clever remarks to communicate your point. Your message should be concise, conversational, and catchy. Quoting you should be easy.


Make fine use of pivots and transitions when communicating. Steering your messages effectively helps you deal with questions you might not have perfect answers to.


3. Stay composed:

During the interview, keep calm. Don’t argue or make a fuss. Be comfortable with the camera; don’t act timid, don’t act shy. Honesty is still the best policy; untrue answers never help. Thus, avoid guesses and speculations.


What’s more, dress properly and keep any distractions out of the way. Your appearance, non-verbal cues, and general environment say a lot in the media. If you make a mistake, politely correct yourself immediately. 


Ultimately, control how you respond and act to ace the interview.

For more insight, listen to our webinar on media and spokesperson training. Also, through our MediaMaster service, we’ll coach your company’s spokespersons to manage news, media coverage, and corporate communications.


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Marjorie Comer.Clients love Marjorie’s work ethic, speed and diligence. She has worked with Axia Public Relations since October 2011. Marjorie graduated from Rockhurst University with a Bachelor of Arts in communication and loves to cheer for her hometown Kansas City Royals. Learn more about Marjorie.


Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

Topics: media relations, earned media, news media

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