5 Tips for Business Owners (or Public Officials) to Ace Any Interview

    Jason Brown
    Jason Brown

    A month ago, no one knew who Kirby Delauter was other than the townspeople of Frederick County, Md. Then the  councilman decided to tell his local newspaper they couldn’t mention him in certain ways. Now, he’s a household name, and in the worst possible way.

    Let’s agree: No one wants their name to “trend” across Twitter. It pretty much is anyone’s nightmare when #kirbydelauter is openly mocked. So how do you avoid these issues as a business owner? There is a good chance if you have a good idea that someone will want to interview you.

    Jason Brown understands. The public-relations pro is the principal of Public City Public Relations (PCPR), a Southfield, Mich.-based public relations firm. Brown, a public-relations specialist with more than 10 years of experience, specializes in media relations and community relations.

    Public City PRHere are Brown’s five quick tips to help you prepare to work with the media and make an impression for your next interview:

    1. Make a plan for the interview. If you go into an interview and just answer questions without a thought for what you want the audience to know, you yield control of the interview to the journalist. Be prepared and know in advance what your goals and key messages are that you would like to get across for the interview.

    2. Avoid technical answers. When you talk above people’s heads, you drive them away. Answer as simply as possible, and without jargon. You may use jargon in your profession daily, but you need to think about the readers/viewer/listener and see if they can understand it as well.

    3. Stick to what the reporter asks. This goes back to planning what your goals are for the interview. You should prepare what key messages you would like to communicate from the start, and stick to those as much as possible. More is not better; answer questions briefly. When you give long-winded answers, you give the journalist the power to choose which parts of your answer to use and omit. Lastly, if you can provide facts and cite the sources, you’ll sound much more credible.

    4. If you don’t know the answer, just say so. There’s nothing wrong with saying you don’t know, that there hasn’t been a decision yet or that you aren’t sure of the answer and will report back. Don’t make it up just to sound good, as it will come back to haunt you later.

    5. Don’t ever say “no comment.” There are very few exceptions to this rule. When you say “no comment,” you almost always look like you’re hiding something. Anticipate the difficult questions, and plan answers that won’t hurt you. Even if you don’t have all the answers at the time you are being interviewed.