Public relations tip: How to know if youre giving a good interview

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to tell whether you’re giving a good media interview because journalists take notes. Our memories are no better than yours. In fact, they’re probably made worse by the fact that we flit from subject to subject. One minute we’re interviewing someone about the latest stock market fluctuations, the next we’re looking at trends in gold mining. Also, we might be interviewing you for a story we’re not going to write for days or weeks.

Steven Lewis interviewing Adriano Zumbo
Steven Lewis interviewing Adriano Zumbo

Because we don’t know when we’re speaking to you exactly what we need for our story, we tend to write everything down. That makes for one very easy clue that what you’re saying isn’t making the cut: we stop writing.

If you’re in the same room, you’ll see the journalist taking notes. If you’re on the phone, chances are you’ll be able to hear the journalist typing.

Public relations course mini-tip

When the note taking or the typing stops, that means the journalist is 100 percent certain that what you’re saying isn’t going in the story.

At that point, you need to wind it up. If you’re wrong, the journalist can ask you to carry on. More likely, she’ll ask another question, refocussing the interview on what she actually wants to know.

Pausing to give her that opportunity is good for you both. If she’s not writing it down, you’re wasting your breath anyway. Letting her direct you where she wants to go increases your chance of appearing in the finished article.