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Media Interview Questions that You Should Ask
Media relations practitioners often make fools of themselves by either begging a reporter for free publicity or trying to cajole a reporter into covering a story. Instead of using these ploys with a reporter, build a relationship with each reporter you speak to by simply asking him/her "How may I help you?"
"How may I help you?"
Media relations practitioners often make fools of themselves by either
begging a reporter for free publicity or trying to cajole a reporter into
covering a story. Instead of using these ploys with a reporter, build
a relationship with each reporter you speak to by simply asking him/her
"How may I help you?"
Use the reporter's answer as you cue on how to continue the conversation
and what to say next to sway the conversation to a point where you can
make a pitch for your story.
The following phrases are other excellent conversation starters to use
"Is now a good time to talk or is another time better?"
Demonstrate respect for the reporter's time by asking this question when
"When is your deadline?"
Asking this question accomplishes the following: It demonstrates your
sensitivity to the reporter's on-going dilemma of meeting a story deadline.
It also illustrates that you understand the news business. Additionally,
it provides you with an indication of how much time you have to fill the
"What would you like for me to send you in advance of the interview?"
This considerate gesture helps both you and the reporter prepare for an
interview and saves you both time.
"Would you like suggestions on other sources for your story?"
Reporters need multiple sources for a story. They usually want as many
as possible. This is a helpful way to save a reporter time and potentially
create a better story.
"Are you looking for any information that you are having trouble
By asking this question, you are again demonstrating empathy for the reporter's
fact-finding challenge and ingratiating yourself with the offer to assist
the reporter to do his/her job.
"Would you like suggestions for settings or photo ideas to accompany
Settings and photos are often something that reporters think about last
and near their deadline. This means that they often use whatever is handy
or easiest to use although better options might be available. If you provide
this early in the story composition process, you have a greater chance
for increased exposure in the story.
"What visual supports would you like for me to provide you that
could accompany your story?"
The modern media has a constant need for all types of visual supports,
especially those available electronically and free. If you can provide,
maps, illustrations, photographs, charts, graphs, or video footage, you
will not only ingratiate yourself to the press, but also increase your
chances of being covered in a story.
"Would you like a list of our other clients or other areas of
expertise that I possess that might assist you in the future?"
If you have asked the questions previously listed in this article, you
have probably proven your worth to the reporter as an outstanding source.
Most reporters would like to have more background information on you or
your clients for future reference.
"Would you like the information that I have just provided you
By asking this question, you are helping the reporter and yourself. You're
helping the reporter by providing information that is already written
and available as documentation for his/her editor. You are helping yourself
by greatly improving your chances for both accurate and expanded quotes.
"Do you need additional documentation on any of the topics we
If the reporter believes that he needs supporting documentation for his/her
story, make sure that he/she views you as a willing source to provide
"Do you have all of my contact information in case you think
of something else you need at the last minute?"
Reporters like the idea that they can contact their sources anywhere/anytime.
Make sure that your press contacts view you as one of accessible sources.
Randall P. Whatley
, is a 26-year media veteran with diverse business experience. Whatley is president of Cypress Media Group, Inc. ( www.cypressmedia.net
an Atlanta-based advertising, public relations, and training firm. He
has extensive experience advising government officials, political
candidates, public officials, and corporate executives on media
relations and presentation skills. He has also written two syndicated newspaper columns and numerous
magazine articles. Whatley has hosted his own television and radio
program and appeared often as a TV and radio program guest, including a
CNN appearance. He has produced hundreds of TV and radio ads and taught
a myriad of seminars ranging from Public Relations Writing to Media
Relations. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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