Interview Prep Sheets: Turn a good interview into a great one

While Dittoe PR offers an array of different services for clients, our bread and butter is media relations. We’re constantly working with reporters to secure media opportunities for our clients. Since we believe no two clients are alike, that also means every client interview is as important as the next. Whether it’s a small startup or a Fortune 500 company, we have found that the value of an interview prep sheet can help turn a good interview into a great one.

 

So, you’re ready to draft an interview prep sheet – now what?

 

The following items are must-haves when developing a prep sheet:

 

  • Date/time: Arguably the most important thing to include. Place this at the very top of your prep sheet, and possibly two or three more times throughout the prep sheet.

 

  • Address/call info: If the interview is taking place offsite, include the address of the location. Hyperlink the address to Google Maps, that way all the interviewee has to do to is click the link and pull up directions. If the interview is taking place over the phone, include the conference line or direct line information.

 

  • Background/opportunity: Include background information about how this opportunity was secured. Reiterate the name of the outlet, the reporter’s name and what he/she is interested in talking about.

 

  • Interview topics: List out topics the interviewee should be prepared to talk about. This information can be pretty generalized, but it gives your client a better idea on what he or she will be talking about during the interview.

 

Depending on the type of client and/or interview, you can add additional information to your prep sheet. Say the interview is with the CEO of the company and not your day-to-day contact – the CEO may want or need more information to help prepare for the interview, especially if it’s with a top-tier, national outlet. If you’re going the extra mile, these items are good to include in your prep sheet:

 

  • Type of interview: Is this a phone or in-person interview? A live or taped TV segment? Including this simple information can help your client mentally prepare for the type of interview.

 

  • Length of interview: Including the estimated length of the interview can help the interviewee plan out the rest of his or her day. It can also help interviewees map out what they are going to say and make sure they have enough content to talk about.

 

  • Reporter’s name: It’s good for the interviewee to have some background info on the interviewer. Along with including the reporter’s name, include a link to his or her bio page or Twitter. Take it a step further by including recent stories written by that reporter, too.

 

  • Potential questions/key messages: This section can be extremely beneficial. While reporters rarely share their interview questions, it’s good to include what you think could be potential questions the reporter could ask. Including key messaging can help craft answers for the potential questions, too.

 

  • Media training tips: We typically include this section for clients that may not have extensive media experience. For example, we use district sales managers at retailers across the country for local TV segments. This may be the only time a district sales manager participates in a media interview, so they may need more guidance than our day-to-day contacts. By including this section in a prep sheet, we provide a quick rundown of what to expect during the interview. We provide tips on how to dress, how to get messaging across, and how to be mindful of body language. This helps in-person interviews be more fluid and natural.

 

  • What to bring: This portion is only needed if a client is bringing something to an in-person interview. If it’s a TV segment, it’s important to have visuals for the interview. List out the items that the client needs to bring, or list out suggested options.

 

Preparing your client with the right tools and information in an interview prep sheet can make a world of difference when it comes to an interview with the media. Think your business could benefit from media relations? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com or request a consultation today.

What is Public Relations? [Part 1]

When I first joined Dittoe Public Relations as a bright-eyed intern, I thought I signed up to work with reporters and schedule interviews. After getting my feet wet, I quickly learned that the world of public relations is much more than just media relations.

 

Yes, in its simplest form, the core of PR is media relations. But before you become dubbed a #PRpro, there are several different areas of expertise to master. This blog post is part one of a two-part series that will take a look at four different key areas of public relations. Part two will be shared next week by fellow PR pro Sophie Maccagnone.

 

Putting together a client event.

Whether it’s planning a grand opening, coordinating a community celebration, hosting a red carpet event or organizing a VIP night, Dittoe PR has had its fair share of event-planning experiences. Putting together a client event can be a fun and unique way to garner additional media coverage for your client. Be warned, though, that months of organization and planning go into making sure these events are a success.

 

In addition to inviting media, planning an event can include outlining the run-of-show document, coordinating schedules for celebrity appearances, general event or regulation research, working directly with vendors, designing invitations or event posters, booking talent, and providing on-site support throughout the event.

 

Earning third-party credibility.

Another overlooked public relations tactic is earning your client credibility from third-party sources. This comes in the form of writing a bylined article for a publication or putting together an award nomination. Contributing byline articles can help position clients as experts in their industry (and you should be one too), as well as showcase their services and offerings in a non-traditional way.

 

Award nominations are another way to help give clients additional street cred. Take the time to research, craft, and submit the perfect nominations to earn additional recognition for your client. That award opportunity can be used later on to show that they are qualified for the job and worth being nominated for other accolades.

 

Be sure to check out our blog next week for part two of this series on how the job of a PR pro goes beyond just media relations. And, while you wait, if you think your business or brand could benefit from our plethora of services, we’d love to hear from you!

How to become BFFs with a reporter (and other helpful tips)

As PR pros, we make to-do lists for our clients every day: create a press release, pitch media, research award opportunities, build press lists, (remember to breathe), draft a byline, etc. But one thing that can make these sometimes-daunting tasks easier is having lasting relationships with reporters. Sure, you can send a stellar product review pitch to a fashion reporter, but it’s often what you do after you press send on your email that leaves a lasting impression on reporters.

 

Creating mutually beneficial relationships with media members, especially local, can mean the difference between an ignored email and a response within minutes. In the PR world, it’s essential to have these types of relationship with reporters. The tips below are meant to help create strong, long-lasting relationships with media

 

Do what you say.

“Don’t make a promise you can’t keep.” While we’ve all heard this cliché a few hundred times in our lives, it’s still applicable in almost all settings. When you propose something to a reporter (an interview, photos, b-roll, etc.), make sure you can deliver. Keeping these types of promises will help to build trust with reporters. The same principle applies to being open and honest. If a reporter comes to you with a handful of requests, but you aren’t sure if you can’t make them all happen, tell the reporter that; you’ll see what you can do and keep them as updated as possible. Following through with what you say and promise will help you land some brownie points with media.

 

Acknowledge reporters as individuals.

Reporters are people, too! When sending out pitches, make sure to find out more about them – what beat do they cover? What are their hobbies? What stories have they written in the past (and would they write about your topic)? Familiarizing yourself with the reporter you’re about to pitch will help determine the tone of your email. Do your research before blasting every reporter under the sun with your pitch. And please, please personalize your pitch – that simple gesture can go a long way!

 

Exceed expectations.

After you’ve started the conversation with a reporter and have had back and forth communication, don’t wait around for a reporter to request something – go the extra mile and offer up additional items to help make their lives easier. Think they’re going to want a photo with the award recognition you sent over? Or links to websites/social channels? Be one step ahead of the reporter, and be prepared with additional requests they might make. Answering a reporter’s request before it’s asked shows you’re on your A-game.

 

At Dittoe PR, we set ourselves apart from our competition by taking the time to get to know local and national media. It might seem stringent at times, but our results show that it pays off in the long run. Request a consult today!