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Five Deadly Media Interview Sins

Date posted: June 29, 2009

After conducting thousands of interviews for magazine articles, case studies, and corporate blogs, I’ve come to understand the elements that make or break an interview with a reporter or freelance writer.

To help managers and executives avoid the pitfalls and mistakes commonly made by those on the “answer” end of a Q&A session, I’ve
created my list of Deadly Media Interview Sins.

Publicity Lust—Don’t be overtly commercial in your comments. Give and you shall receive. In other words, if you provide quality commentary, the writer will do the publicity work for you.

Word Gluttony—Speak in quotable sound bites, not rambling off-topic tangents. Listen closely to the interviewer’s questions. A good interviewer is leading you toward the goal line. Remember, the interviewer wants you to succeed in providing quotable material. The more you hone in on what’s needed, the more likely you’re going to receive a good deal of coverage in the article.

Answer sloth—The opposite of a Word Glutton is an Answer Sloth. It’s a good idea to avoid lazy, overly general responses or one-word answers. Answer fully and with excitement, conviction, and energy. Your enthusiasm will come through in print or on the Web page.

Information Greed—It’s best to be as forthcoming as possible during the interview. Come to the call ready to share information and anecdotal stories with the interviewer. The more details and engaging stories you can provide, the stronger you’ll appear in print. If there are statistics or other data points that you don’t have at your fingertips, it’s okay to say you’ll get
back to the interviewer with them. After the call, follow up promptly with the numbers.