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BE PREPARED - ADVICE FOR MEDIA INTERVIEWS

By Association Member Robert Babylon

So, you’ve been lucky enough to be invited to be interviewed by a journalist about your work, but before you dive in for the free publicity or to make your stand against censorship it’s worthwhile taking a moment to make sure you make the best use of this opportunity.

Taking some time to prepare for your interview will both help prevent you making yourself look foolish, and increase the possibility that the interview you give will be interesting enough to be published.

Know Your Audience

Find out who you are talking to, and what organisation/publication they represent.

This information will help you decide on the angle that you give to your interview. It will help you to judge the level of understanding that the final audience may have and what they might be interested in hearing you talk about.

This information will also help you second-guess the sorts of questions you may be asked so that you can prepare your answers and speak confidently.

Know What You Want to Say

Listen to what you are being asked; speak with authority but take care only to speak about what you know.

To use the interview to your advantage you need to know what points you want to make before being interviewed. Try to stick to these points and use the interviewer’s questions to help you make these points. Make a bullet point list of these key points as an ‘aide memoir’.

Remember that the more you say the more scope the interviewer has for editing. The danger for you is that your key points may get edited out. Try to say just what you need to say and no more.

Have some interesting anecdotes and sound bites ready to illustrate your key points.

Know What Not to Say

Be careful with what you say and make sure that anything you say will not make you look foolish if taken out of context. Beware of traps being set – always ask yourself what might be behind each question.

If you are concerned about being misquoted remember that you can record your interview – the journalist you talk to probably will, and Tony Benn always does. Don’t forget, out of simple courtesy, to ask the person who is interviewing you.

Take care with generalisations or speaking about what you do not know. Above all avoid dropping yourself – or anyone else in the manure!

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