With the social media landscape growing increasingly cluttered, and “pay to play” becoming more prevalent, getting your brand in front of potential clients can be challenging. Media interviews are one way to stand out – and a good interview can not only net your firm great publicity, it can lead to continued exposure, as editors, reporters, TV producers and radio and podcast hosts are always scanning the media for smart, lively and engaging talent. This month, KB Designers Network shares tips for acing those media interviews.
If you’re fortunate enough to be contacted by a media professional looking for a story source, be sure to respond quickly! Writers, producers and editors often work on super tight deadlines, and will move on to the next potential source if they don’t get a quick response.
As Forbes.com contributor and Kitchen & Bath Design News writer Jamie Gold advises, “You always want to follow through in the requested timeframe with insightful comments coming from your professional experience.” And, she warns, “Do not commit to answering questions and then ghost the writer or editor! You’d be surprised how often this happens, and word gets around.”
When it comes to magazines, newspapers and online stories, a photo is worth a thousand words –and that’s especially true in the design world. So be sure you have high-resolution photos that showcase your best work, says freelance writer Dianne Pogoda. The former NKBA editor notes that, “You should try to get professional photos of all your projects, if possible, or the best shots you can take, at the very least.”
Gold agrees that great photos are key, noting, “You should send only high-resolution, publication-quality images of your own projects for which you own all printing and online publishing rights.” Photo credits should be included, and she suggests sending photos via a Dropbox, Google Drive or similar link, as attachments can sometimes reroute emails into spam folders.
Don’t wait until the media comes knocking to put together a selection of your best (and most current) project photos! And be sure to let an editor know if the work was previously published and where – not all publications expect exclusivity, but being transparent here will prevent misunderstandings that can damage your chances of getting future media coverage.
Check Your Quotes
Even the best media sources sometimes get things wrong. The best way to avoid being accidentally misquoted is to preview your quotes before a story goes to press. That’s according to Leslie Carothers, Principal at Savour Partnerships, who says, “Always ask the editor if they will review their story with you prior to publication so you can correct factual errors.”
This also allows you to check that your name and business name are spelled correctly so people reading the story can easily find your business. Most editors are happy to let you preview your quotes, but if you want to work with the editor again, don’t ask to make major changes unless there are errors that need to be corrected.
Long time kitchen and bath industry insider Karla Krengel is a cabinetry and wood top representative, but she spent a decade working in television. One thing that not everyone realizes, she says, is that TV interviews tend to be extremely short – generally no more than a minute or two. That means it’s critical to make every word count. “Asking the interviewer how he/she is doing is a waste of valuable time,” she warns, noting that you should think through the topic in advance so you know what key points you want to make.
Multimedia specialist Charles Garnar, who has worked as a producer at major news outlets from CNN and MSNBC to Bloomberg, agrees: “Know why you are being interviewed and know your messaging. You should have 2-3 points and be able to state them concisely. You don’t need to memorize them, but know why you’re there and what your goal is with the interview.”
He also warns against “over talking” – you don’t want to appear to be babbling, and you don’t want to hijack the interview. The best interviews have give and take, so keep your answers to a sentence or two and give the interviewer a chance to interact with you.
Sometimes the interview topic is clearly stated – maybe they want to get your take on kitchen design trends, what was hot at KBIS or what’s happening in your local market. Whatever the topic, you’ll want to showcase your expertise in a lively, insightful and engaging way. It’s fine to talk about what your firm is doing, but if you try to turn the interview into a commercial, you’re unlikely to get invited back.
And don’t forget to turn off your cell phone! Having a phone go off in the middle of a live interview is a good way to ensure you won’t be asked to return in the future.
Krengel adds that it’s important to avoid common fillers – “Using lots of ‘umms,’ ‘likes’ and ‘wells’ will not get you added to that media person’s list of great sources for the topic.”
TV is a visual medium, and while you don’t have to look like a movie star, you do need to look put together and polished. Garnar suggests wearing a bright color that flatters your complexion – “not black, white or green, and no patterns, which can be distracting.”
Krengel advises against wearing cotton, which can look messy in the camera’s eye, or bunch up, especially if you’re seated.
She notes, “Look the interviewer directly in the eye. Don’t worry about where the camera is – they will worry about you. Just maintain normal eye contact with the person asking the questions.”
She also suggests standing in a comfortable position and warns, “Know what your hands are doing, and be conscious of not swaying back and forth or from foot to foot.”
Personality is especially evident on TV, so presenting yourself confidently is critical, she states, noting that nobody likes “wishy washy answers!”
While more and more interviews are doing via email these days, some writers still find a live conversation to be the most effective way to get authentic sounding quotes. While these can elicit more natural responses, they can be more stressful if you’re not comfortable giving off the cuff responses.
Don’t be afraid to ask the writer to you the questions (or the general gist of the interview) in advance. Then, before you get started, write down the points you’d most like to cover. Krengel says, “As you are working through the interview, cross off those points as you make them. This way, you won’t forget to make an important point during the interview.”
Other Important Tips
- To maximize your coverage and extend your reach, post to your social channels afterwards and tag the person, company and/or publication interviewing you.
- Send a thank you note.
- Always ask for the backlink!