As the founder and CEO of a digital marketing agency, I’m often asked to provide insights or interviews for various features or articles, including national press. You may be in a similar position or you might be activity seeking PR and marketing opportunities with journalists, aiming to gain coverage and increase the reach of your business.
Whichever category you fall into, it’s not always easy to know how to deal with the press or how to approach an interview request with journalists. Here are my top tips for handling press interviews and building relationships with journalists:
Always get on the phone
Many journalists will simply ask you to send them over some comments in an email. Never do this. You need to build a connection with the journalist and get them to feature you. This isn't so easy to achieve if you’re just sending an email with a couple of quotes. It's passable. A phone interview will help craft the content and get the journalist to really feel your point of view.
Ask journalists for their questions in advance
This is your chance to really prepare. Write some notes for each potential question you’ll be asked, making sure you have one "golden" quote for each question that you can drop in. This will give you a better chance of getting a pull quote (a featured mention), which will stand out from the rest of the article.
Take yourself away from distractions
When taking the call, don't be distracted by anything. Be 100% present – you need to be focused and commited. If you're not, the journalist will immediately pick up on this, because they interview people every day. Spend 15 minutes preparing for the call by going through your notes and be ready and calm for the interview. Rehearse your potential answers and statements, like you would do for a talk.
Don't say too much
I'm talking here about waffling on. This is the most common mistake. You probably love to talk about what you do, but for journalists, going on too long can dilute your message and confuse them. It's best to be salient and concise with your answers. You should expect to spend up to one minute answering each question. Any longer, then the chances are that you're waffling.
Think about why you're doing it
Always weave your business goals into the mix – this could be as simple as referencing a client or a type of project. Make sure you get what you want out of each press opportunity and don’t just be steered by what the journalist wants. Always ask for a link to your website too.
Follow up with the journalist after
Always ask when the feature is likely to be published. Stay in touch with the journalist and be sure to drop them an email every month or so, depending on the type of press, to ask if there's anything in their pipeline that you could be a good fit for.
You can do this by adding them to your CRM platform, such as HubSpot, with a custom field that sits alongside "prospect", "lead" and "customer". This way, you can set up automated emails to journalists to go out at pre-set intervals, saving you time and making sure you don’t drop the ball. Every time you encounter a new journalist, they can be automatically added to the same workflow. Smart, eh?
So, that's it – simple really. It’s worth keeping this as a go-to guide somewhere though, as this always gets me the best results with journalist interviews. Take it from me, when I’ve not followed this methodology, I can tell. The quotes aren't as good and I don't get feature quoted, and I end up kicking myself. Try this step-by-step guide yourself and see the results!
If you’d like to get more advice on dealing with the press or you need help with any other aspects of your brand’s marketing activities, you can get a 1-2-1 consultation with me free of charge by booking in a session here: Book a free consultation with Philip Storey