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Attention publicists: the only tool you need to ensure an amazing media interview

Updated: Aug 27




Here’s a shocker. When I ask first-time clients how they prep for a media interview, the majority tell me they don’t. They’re concerned about sounding rote. Or, they’ve received a very tidy key message document they’ve read, but it’s too dense to remember.


News flash for spokespeople: when you meet with a reporter, the resulting article is like an appointment, with hundreds of potential customers, existing customers, partners, and potential new hires — all people you want to attract.


However, when you ask these same people how they prep for an important customer appointment, they’ve got an agenda, back up material, often a demo, or a deck with well thought-out graphs, data, and case studies.


What?


So, what does a good agenda look like?


It can be as detailed as you need it to be with data in context, perspective, observation, anecdote, or use case stories as needed.


As a flexible tool, it helps you structure a conversation in a way that flows for you.

For example, if your company is suffering from misperceptions, such as we’re only good at X, but we also do all these other amazing things, then your agenda will be structured to tell a more complete story.


It might be structured as:

  1. What we’re best known for in the industry

  2. Other amazing problems we solve you may be interested to know

  3. Where we see opportunity next (that’s if you want to show vision)

An agenda is the foundation for a purposeful conversation. Did I say conversation?

If it’s a competitive product story, then your agenda might be structured to “ghost” the competition.

  1. The problem everyone is solving

  2. The landscape

  3. Our solution, including the why behind it and the how it works (not just the what)

There are many more agendas we can create including those for thought leadership that include a section on where we see the market going.


Yes, good interviews have a give-and-take quality to them and it’s up to someone to lead the dance. Why not have it be you?


Without a prepared agenda, you run the risk of a free-range conversation that while very pleasant (or not so pleasant depending on your circumstances), may leave you wondering what just happened in that meeting- and what the reporter will write.


I can hear you already saying, “But Whitney, we already have key messages.”

Let’s stop right there. Have you ever tried to speak a key message? It usually sounds like box copy, or worse, scripted marketing. Even if you’re excellent at translating a key message into conversational language, it’s still a key message, which most reporters will ask you to prove.


Start with a great story and your key message is a great wrap up at the end of a point. Much more believable.


And Bonus…


Have great data points behind your message — excellent. But where’s the flow? How does it become a narrative — the umbrella that builds all this into an outstanding story?


Say I do it this way, how do I know it will work?


For the past 5 years, I’ve been using this approach with my clients — all to help them quickly organize information, own it, make it conversational, and deliver it with confidence. In the more than a dozen case studies I have in tech and consumer companies, it never fails that the resulting articles are almost verbatim following our agenda.


When you have an agenda in place, you always have somewhere to move the conversation, especially when under fire. With leading questions (yes, we prep those in too), your agenda helps you turn a one way download into a real conversation.


And… Even if you’ve spent time writing — or paying for — a beautiful narrative from your branding or PR agency — you’ll still need to mind the gap between written prose and conversational language. The best news of all…you can get it done in in under 30 minutes.


Article originally appeared in Medium.

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