SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

Public Relations & the Media


Tips for the Interview

Interviews for television generally may last from 3 to 5 minutes. This may not seem like a long time, but it can be forever in front of a camera. Radio interviews may be from 10 to 30 minutes. Newspaper interviews vary in time and may be done over the telephone or in person. Make sure you have all of the necessary information to complete a successful interview. Remember to:

  • Speak clearly and audibly.
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Do not allow eyes to wander around the studio.
  • Have correct facts and figures.
  • Be compelling. Make the audience believe and care about what is being said.
  • Know what you are talking about.
  • Be positive and informative.
  • Address all issues that are identified as key messages.
  • Dress well, but do not over-dress. Too much “costume” will take the viewer’s attention away from the message.
  • Know the organizational mission and goals.
  • Provide viewers or listeners with a “call to action,” what you want them to do with the information they are being given.
  • Do not use professional or medical jargon.
  • Be enthusiastic about getting the message to the public.
  • If a family is being interviewed in their home, remind them to clean the room in which the interview will take place.
  • Use verbal and nonverbal language and signs to emphasize key points.
  • Avoid over-answering questions during interviews. Be clear, concise and compelling with your answers.
  • Do not be afraid to repeat your message.

Tips for you to effectively answer a reporter’s questions:4

  1. When a reporter contacts you, reply back immediately. Be prepared to ask him or her:
    • What is your deadline?
    • What questions do you have?
    • Who else have you contacted?
    • Do not be afraid to ask, “Can I call you back in an hour to research your questions and find the right spokesperson for you?”
  2. Know your message.
  3. It is important that everyone in your group is clear about the message being conveyed. Have your message points written out and practice saying them before being interviewed. Do not be afraid to repeat your message.
  4. Your response to any question should tie back to your message.
  5. If you are able to schedule an interview, prepare yourself through a role-play.
  6. Do not be afraid to say you do not know.
    • If you are unable to answer a reporter’s question, refer him/her to someone who can.
    • If you realize you stated an incorrect fact or misstated your thoughts, immediately let the reporter know.
  7. Provide any information that you may have for an upcoming story.
    • Reporters appreciate the gesture and this helps to build connections with media outlets.
    • Building rapport with a reporter will give you a better opportunity to frame your story for the public.