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No. 62 – Preparing for News Media Interviews – 2

February 29, 2012

Determine Your Interview Goals

If you want a particular message or impression conveyed to a news reporter, then you have some homework to do as far in advance of the interview as possible. You should start with an overall goal for your organization that would be reflected in an interview with any member of your organization, no matter what position they occupy. This overall goal could be called the “Mission Statement” of your organization. This statement should include both the purpose of your organization and its philosophy of operation.

Your mission statement should answer the question, “What are we here for?” Such a statement of the long-term mission of your organization should ideally be devel-oped as a team effort with representation from all programs of your organization. With broad participation in developing a mission statement, you are likely also to get broad agreement and support. With the overall goal in mind, you can then begin to plan the more immediate goals to achieve in a news media interview.

Five Key Messages

Before your interview begins, you should prepare by developing five key messages that you want to be sure are included in your interview responses. These messages should be short, specific, and listed for priority. One or more of these messages should reflect the “mission statement” of your organization. Ideally you would also develop these key messages as a cooperative staff effort well in advance of any anticipated media interviews.

You may wish to write these out on a wallet-sized card and provide copies to all members of your organization. You may also determine that, among the diverse func-tional groups of your organization, there will need to be specialized key messages for each group. You should review these key messages periodically to determine if they are still up-to-date with your organization’s evolving function.

You should also review the five key messages in relation to a specific interview to determine the priority of messages appropriate for the circumstances of the interview. For a particular interview, you may also wish to revise your key messages to account for the particular situation and what a news reporter would likely ask about.

Doing Your Homework Will Pay Dividends

The greatest challenge in preparing for news media interviews is knowing what you want to say. By establishing a clear, simple, mission statement you already know the most important part of your message.

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