Media Interview Tips
Have a clear objective. You should never do an interview without having a clear idea of what you want to see in print (or on TV/radio). That means having a key message. Write it down, know it well, and weave it into every answer you can.
Press your point. Look for opportunities during the interview to repeat your key message. Open and close with it, if you can.
Be ready for the worst. Take the time to think of the worst possible questions you'll get asked. Then think of the best answers for each of them.
Be honest. You don't need to tell everything you know, but never lie, no matter how difficult the truth might be.
Never say "no comment." If you can't answer a particular question, say so, but explain why. "No comment" sends off alarms for a reporter that suggests you have something to hide.
Everything is "on the record." Don't ever assume or accept that a conversation is off-the-record.
If you don't want it printed, don't say it. While you have to be honest, you don't have to volunteer things that are not helpful.
Be brief and to the point. The reporter will only be able to use a small portion of what you say. If your answers are long, the reporter will edit what you say to extract the quote(s).
Don't be afraid of saying, "I don't know." Do more than one interview and it's a lock that you'll get asked a question that stumps you. Say so. It is much better than trying to make it up. In fact, if you aren't 100% sure of the answer, you should say so. Offer to get the answer, if appropriate, and make sure someone follows up.
Be responsive. Press your point, but don't completely dodge the question. Answer the question, but still look for ways to press your point by way of amplification, explanation or clarification.
Be friendly. Don't get into an argument with someone who buys his ink by the barrel. Most reporters aren't out to get you, and even those who are will be easier to handle if you remain professional.
Don't be shy. If a question has an underlying premise that is incorrect, challenge it. If the reporter makes a statement that you disagree with, say so. An unchallenged statement could be used as a quote from you.
Silence is golden. Don't try to fill moments of silence. In most cases, the reporter is simply writing down what you just said. But some reporters use silence as a technique (especially on the electronic side). When you are through with your answer, stop and wait for the reporter to ask the next question.
Don't answer someone else's question. You may be asked about something a student or competitor did. Be very careful about such questions. Refer the reporter to the appropriate source.
Don't speculate. Reporters love to play "what if." Don't do it. A simple answer is that you don't like to speculate, and if the "what" happens, you'll be happy to answer the question then.