What do the Media Want From a Business Interview?

One of the biggest mistakes that business people make in any interview is that they assume they are speaking to a business audience.  In reality, even when you get booked on CNBC, or interviewed for the Wall Street Journal, it’s always wise to assume you’re speaking to a general audience.  If you assume too much knowledge (not wisdom, but knowledge of your business) on the part of the audience, you’ll miss out on an opportunity to really connect with viewers and readers and get your story told.

Unless you are speaking to a trade publication for your industry, remember people really don’t know much at all about your business. 

The following are what the media really wants from a business interview: 

==>    Cool trends: What do you see on the horizon? Is there something coming up in your industry that people would want to know about?  What is everyone buzzing about?  Do you have a take (especially if it’s contrarian) on it?  Put a future focus on your media lens and you’ll be amazed at how the media responds.
==>    Controversy: Can we debate it? Are people arguing about it?  Do intelligent minds see it differently? That’s an instant hit whether in print, broadcast or on the Web.  Controversy drives the news, because it engages people, so don’t be afraid to be a little controversial.
==>    In the news now—is it making headlines? You can’t believe how often as a reporter I canceled someone because frankly, it just wasn’t as interesting today as it was a week ago. 
==>    Celebrity guests—big names and big name companies. Of course, you can’t control whether you’re a celebrity but you can build your visibility in the industry. When given a choice, reporters always select the known name provided they are a good interview.
==>    Hot companies— either for good reasons or bad.  Your company’s name is in the news; you’re going to get a call.  If your company’s name turns up in a lot of articles, they assume you’re on the cutting-edge. Publicity begets publicity.
==>    Hot products—stuff people are buying, using.  Bring show and tell.  Reporters and anchors love to hold, examine, look at stuff.  If you have stuff bring it along and explain it.
==>    Charismatic guests—look into the camera and smile. The charisma factor is not to be underestimated. It’s not just the right suit and a smile. It’s the passion, intensity and focus you bring to the interview.  It comes shining through.
==>    A guest with an agenda—don’t wait to be asked, jump in and offer ideas.  Reporters don’t know where to take the interview, but you do.  Come ready to introduce topics and offer more than what is asked.
This is excerpted from PR News Media Training Guidebook 2009 Edition. It was written by Suzanne Bates, president/CEO of Bates Communications, Inc. To order this guidebook or find out more information, go to www.prnewsonline.com/store.