Media Interview Checklist

  1. Be Yourself. It establishes your credibility.
  2. Be Prepared. Anticipate questions and develop answers that clearly state the key ideas you want to express.
  3. Be Enthusiastic. It comes across as conviction.
  4. Be Specific. Use short answers and avoid jargon.
  5. Be Correct. Don’t guess at answers. It’s OK to say “I don’t know” and “I’ll get back to you with the information.”
  6. Be Anecdotal. Anecdotes help fix a point in the listener’s mind.
  7. Be a Listener. How well you listen to questions is as important as how well you talk.
  8. Be Cool. Hostile questions do not demand hostile answers.
  9. Don’t let the reporter put words in your mouth. Some reporters have a tendency to say, “So in other words…”. Correct inaccuracies. Don’t allow the reporter’s errors to slip by. Keep your corrections to the point.
  10. Formulate your response for the public. The public, not the press, is your real audience.
  11. Set a goal. Develop two or three key messages you want to convey to the reporter. Repeat important points you wish to make.
  12. Ask the reporter questions. You can often tell from his or her answers whether your remarks have been understood.
  13. Don’t say anything that you would not want to see in print. “Off the record” can mean different things to different people. The interview is never “over” until you and the reporter have parted company.

Checklist source material includes:

Morrison & Tyson Communications
Serving America’s Colleges & Universities
P.O. Box 488, Walpole, NH 03608
(603) 756-4111 · FAX (603) 756-4739
campuslink@verizon.net

On Television! A Survival Guide for Media Interviews, Jack Hilton

“Tips on Working with the Media,” Penn State