Five questions you should ask before any media engagement
Those who are experienced in working with media know that there are questions you should always ask of a journalist or producer before any media engagement. They are not questions designed to be difficult or defensive, they are the questions you need to ask to make sure that you deliver your best performance – be it TV, radio, print or online.
You do not have to ask all these questions but make sure that you are across the following:
How long is the interview going to be?
This is very important for a radio interview. You might only have three minutes, or you could have fifteen minutes to work with. In the case of talkback, you might be asked to stay on and answer questions, which is another skillset altogether. Television news is looking for a short 5-10 second grab – so concise, punchy comments are needed.
Who is your audience demographic?
This may be the most important question you can ask. Know who you are speaking to. If you are talking to ABC radio you will change the way you engage, compared to an FM music station. If you are on Sky News or ABC The Drum, you will be communicating with two very different audiences. Knowing the audience, will help you with style, tone, and messaging.
What direction is the media looking to take?
This question helps you focus on the goal of the media engagement from the media’s perspective. It will sometimes diffuse a negative topic or it will help you get comfortable with your message ahead of an interview. Always be on the alert though, and be prepared for the odd curve ball question, not all media is going to give you their precise direction on a story.
Is this a live or pre-recorded interview?
In theory, in a pre-record you can make a mistake and have it edited but it’s never advisable to depend on this, so treat all media as if it was live. Do a live interview if you can, so that you are at least in control of your messaging and direction the interview is going. Pre-records work very well for night or overnight media, and when different time zones are involved.
What is your email address?
You should always try to get the contact details of the journalist or producer you are involved with so that you can offer extra information if required. It is also helpful if you have any further developments, new stories to share or would like to get a copy of your engagement.
Many experts feel that they are not entitled to ask these questions. But be assured, all experienced media performers ask these questions, particularly if it is media they have not worked with previously. As you get to know a particular media platform, presenter or reporter, these questions will become less necessary, as you will have built an understanding and relationship.
By Nic Hayes, Managing Director, Media Stable