Inside the Media
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To order Winning with the News Media:
Below are excerpts from the Interviews-General chapter of
Winning with the News Media
Copyright © 2005, 2001, 1999, 1996
By Clarence Jones
When reporters want an interview, the most basic rule is:
Give Yourself Time to Think Before You Talk.
The quotes that people regret are usually said reflexively, in the traumatic surge of anger or shock that follows a rude surprise or sudden loss. If you can stall for even five minutes, youíll do a better job of speaking for yourself or your organization.
If Your Pulse Races, Pause
The rule is especially critical if the reporterís first question makes your adrenaline surge or pulse rate jump. You wonít think well in the fight-or-flee mode. You need a little time to get back to normal. To get your thoughts together.
If the reporter shows up unexpectedly, find an excuse to delay for a few minutes. If the reporter calls on the phone, say "Iím really busy." (Which is true. Youíve got a lot to do in the next few minutes.) "Can I call you back in about 10 minutes?"
In that brief conversation, get a grasp of what the story is about. Then hang up and spend 10 minutes getting ready.
Use the time to decide what you really want to say. Boil it down to one sentence you can speak without taking a breath. That one sentence will become the base of the interview. Other thoughts will branch out from it. Youíll want to keep coming back to it. Explaining it. Expanding it.
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From the first contact, where you arranged to delay the interview for a few minutes, you know generally what the story is about. When you call back, or the reporter arrives, expand that inquiry. Weave it into the social chat that begins most conversations. While a television photographer is setting up the lights and camera, talk to the reporter about the story at hand.
If you understand what the reporter is after, you can save a lot of time and anxiety. In this conversation before the shorthand pad or recorder is at work, you should learn some basics:
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