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Tips and Resources

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Working with the Media: Interview Tips

Media interviews are a prime opportunity to emphasize the importance of underage drinking and other substance use prevention. The following tips will help you or your spokespersons “tell your story” to media outlets.

  • Write down two or three key message points and be sure to convey these during your interview. Don’t wait for the perfect question to get important points across. Find ways to work these message points into the responses you are providing.
    • Some good transitions to your key messages include "I'd also like to point out …" or "Another thing to consider is …."
  • Keep answers brief. The average television sound bite is less than 10 seconds. Keeping answers short will ensure your entire soundbite or quote is used.
  • Show your passion for underage drinking and substance use prevention. Deliver your answers with energy and confidence.
  • Whether on camera or speaking with a print journalist, look sharp. Strive for a comfortable but professional stature and maintain good eye contact with the reporter interviewing you. Wear professional attire and solid colors. Use your hands to stress particular points but avoid gesturing too much.
  • Use plain language that allows your answers to be easily understood and relate real-life anecdotes to illustrate your points.
  • Include all relevant information in your answer, but don’t ramble. Too much information can distract from key messages you want the reporter to focus on. Identifying your key messages ahead of an interview can help prevent rambling or oversharing as well.
  • If you don't know the answer to a question, don’t try to come up with an answer on the spot. Tell the reporter you will look into the question and will reach out when you have the answer.
  • If the reporter states incorrect information, correct them politely and come back to your main message.
  • When you finish answering a question and the reporter doesn’t ask you the next question, don’t feel obligated to fill the silence. This could take you off topic.

At the end of the interview, refrain from asking to see a copy of the story before it is broadcast or published. Thank the reporter, ask them when they expect the piece will be published or broadcast, and provide a phone number where you can be reached should they have any follow-up questions.

For more information about working with media, check the "promotion" box on the Tips and Resources page.