Making the Most of your "15 Minutes of Fame"

By Candace BelAir

A reporter calls and wants to interview you for his or her article. Or a TV producer wants you to appear on a talk-show to discuss industry trends.

These are great opportunities for you and your company. Exposure through the media can result in the kind of favorable publicity and credibility money can’t buy – only if you know how to handle the interview. To do that, you need to know some basic media manners.

Always be prepared. If you agree to an interview, take the time to prepare. Looking or sounding disorganized will hurt your credibility.

Never ask to see a reporter’s questions in advance – your request will be denied. However you may ask the reporter for the general topic he or she will be covering.

Do not ask to clear the story before it runs and don’t complain after it does. Even if the story didn’t run or air the way you would have told it, trust that the reporter knows his or her audience. If the story is factually incorrect, however, call and state your case.

Expect the unexpected. Even the best-laid plans may change with breaking news and your story may not run when scheduled, so go with the flow.

Show your appreciation. If you think the reporter did a fair job, write a thank-you note.

In addition, here are a few helpful hints that will help you make the most of your “15 minutes of fame.”

Create a topic outline, detailing key points that you want to make during the interview. State your main point first; in a live interview you may not have time to get to the others. Avoid using acronyms – P.M.A. could be short for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association, positive mental attitude or previous mailing address.

Keep your information simple. For instance, instead of saying 48 million Americans use your product, say one out of every five Americans does.

Make sure you tell the truth. If you don’t know the answer to a question, admit it and find someone who does. False information is far more damaging than lack of knowledge.

Don’t memorize your presentation. A canned speech will sound stiff. Instead, memorize facts and figures.

If the interview is getting off track, answer the questions and then make a transition such as “however, the point I want to make here …”

Keep in mind that anecdotes can help your audience relate to the topic.

Be subtle in your self-promotion: Interviewers cringe at any hint of free advertising. Try something like “Just last week, one of many Seattle clients landed a new job thanks to our service.”

By following these guidelines, you’ll project yourself as believable and confident and gain valuable publicity and widespread exposure for your business. What’s more, you may be invited back!

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