Seven ways to shine in a media interview

Seven ways to shine in a media interview

Use these steps to improve your communication skills—and help the public understand pets' healthcare issues and needs.
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May 01, 2006

Interviews are a great opportunity to encourage interest and educate the public about veterinary medicine and public health matters. But good interviews don't happen by chance. It takes thought, skill, and practice to convey your messages effectively. Take these seven steps to make the most of your next media opportunity.

1. Plan your points and make them early. Prepare three concise, key messages and use every question as a chance to address your agenda as well as the question.

2. Anticipate opposing points of view. Opposing perspectives make a news story more interesting. Learn about the other side and be ready to present your side without appearing defensive.

3. Know the media. You'll be more effective if you know what stories the reporter has recently covered. You can easily conduct archive searches on most media Web sites.

4. You don't have to know everything. If you can't answer questions because they're out of your area of expertise, don't guess or make something up. It's perfectly acceptable to say, "You know, I'm not an expert on that, but I could put you in touch with someone who is." Then recommend someone who does know the answer.

5. Don't go "off the record." There's really no such thing as off the record. The interview is in progress the moment you enter the reporter's presence until the moment you leave. If you don't want it quoted, don't say it.

6. Be brief. News is presented in small bites of information. Keep your messages short and make your point often.

7. Set things straight, nicely. If an article makes a point about your interview that's not true, refute it immediately and politely. Correct misinformation in a way that's helpful.

Keep in mind, good interviews take practice. With each one, you'll deliver messages more clearly and concisely.

Rebecca Hart, Accredited Public Relations Professional, is a consultant and the co-founder of http://www.thevetzone.com/, a Web site offering tools and information for the veterinary profession.

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