It can be tempting to accept interview offers without considering possible implications. Numerous factors should help determine which ones to pursue. Questions of timing, the reporter’s background and the tone of prior coverage all affect the decision. When considering an interview request, here are some things to think about:
Is the timing right?
Even if the opportunity appears to guarantee widespread positive coverage, consider possible developments that might occur before or shortly after the story comes out. Is the company planning any major announcements before the story appears? Lawsuits, recalls and resignations, for example, might cause certain stories to backfire. On the other hand, positive developments could reinforce the story’s potential to strengthen the company’s reputation.
What is the reporter’s deadline?
With today’s 24-hour news cycle, journalists are constantly battling the clock. They’ll often reach out to you the day of or day before their deadline. So when the reporter calls, ask about the scope of the interview and the story into which it will be incorporated (perhaps it’s a story that goes well beyond your company; if so, who else is being interviewed and what is the story’s premise?). This information will help you determine who would be the appropriate spokesperson (or on what subjects the spokesperson might first need to be internally briefed) and whether there is sufficient time to prepare.
What is the reporter’s background?
It’s critical to identify the story angle. Has the reporter run any negative stories on the brand or the industry? Research their previous work and social media accounts to get a better sense of their reporting style and any biases that might color the story with tools like Muck Rack. This could avert an unwelcome surprise.
What is the outlet?
The readership, reputation and the geographic coverage of the outlet should all help decide if an interview opportunity is worth pursuing. Researching the outlet with tools like Cision can be helpful in determining whether an outlet is the right opportunity for your brand. Even if an outlet is small and local, it might be worth the effort if the company is trying to target its readers/listeners/viewers. Also, if it has significant clout or a dedicated group of followers, then the interview might be worth doing. It depends on whom you’re trying to reach.
Do you have the right spokesperson?
After all the previous factors are considered, the interview cannot be done without an informed, prepared spokesperson. So it’s essential to clearly understand the reporter’s needs and to ensure the spokesperson is prepared to respond to the reporter’s questions. It might be helpful to conduct a practice interview beforehand, and, if there is any question about the spokesperson’s readiness, to also conduct refresher media training.
Deciding whether to accept an interview involves many factors, which can vary from industry to industry. A public relations agency with experience in a variety of sectors can help navigate these opportunities. Their knowledge of and relationships with the media can help you analyze each request and counsel you on the strategy that will work best – and protect you from unforeseen traps.