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Assuming you aren’t the director of a toxic waste dump or the state governor, television and radio interviews are pretty straightforward. Be sure that the producer or editor receives some background information about your organization and yourself before the interview. This will allow them to do some background research. It’s a good idea to rehearse some of the answers you’ll provide to reporter questions. This is particularly true for television and radio interviews where you’ll be speaking in sound bites. Practice with a friend or relative to get used to the interview format.

To Interview Or Not…

For the most part, interviews are rarely confrontational. Just remember to keep control of the interview. If the interviewer strays into areas you weren’t prepared to address, simply guide the conversation back to the topic at hand. Try to be courteous to your interviewer but firm in your resolve.

If you did seek the exposure, you know what you’re in for. What if you don’t seek the interview? Instead, a reporter calls you out of the blue and wants to interview you about a topic. For example, say the reporter wants to do a story on the franchise you’re part of, or they have uncovered something unsavory about a product you are selling. Do you take the interview? Provide more information? Or do you let things take course without your input?

Things to consider:

* What do you have to gain from an interview? If you have absolutely nothing to gain, don’t bother with an interview that is broadcast live.

* If you didn’t seek the interview, ask yourself how much damage will be done if the media does the story without your help. This is based on the level of comfort you have with the medium, who the interviewer is and the amount of preparation time you have.

* Who is the audience of the publication or program? A local newspaper audience may be more responsive to your message than outsiders and may be a good place to get some experience.

* Are there other ways? Can you provide the media with information they need without an interview? This is particularly important when the story may not be favorable to you. Ask yourself, is this my fight? The media loves controversy and you may not want to be drawn into one simply because you are willing to talk.

* How will audiences not directly in the coverage area be affected? You must consider the impact of what you say on your customers, suppliers, family and employees.

* Are the photos that are going to run simultaneously with the story or TV news going to enhance your image or conflict with it? You may be able to provide pictures or camera access that will help.