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.

How To Use Your PR Internship as a Networking Opportunity

By: Lyndsey Isenhower

 

If you’ve ever applied for a job, you’ve probably heard the saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” The more people you connect with in the company or industry that you aim to be in, the higher chance for employment. Networking is one of the most valuable tools available to get where you want to go. And internships are a great way to begin the networking process – after all, you meet and work with people that are already in your chosen industry!

 

As a former intern myself, here are a few tips for doubling your internship as a networking opportunity:

 

Do Your Research.

On the first day of your internship, walk in knowing everything you can about the company and industry. It will be difficult to connect with professionals if you have nothing relevant to say to them, so spend time researching the company history, top executives, past achievements and even client industries if that information is available.

 

The more you know on the first day at your internship, the more reliable, interested and committed you seem to the job. When presented the opportunity to speak with executives, you will already have a basic understanding of what they do and why their work matters. From there, you can dive in and ask questions that go beyond the surface level.

 

Put Yourself in Uncomfortable Situations.

Speaking with employees at your internship may be intimidating at first; however, establishing a relationship with people in the workplace will make your time there more enjoyable and worthwhile in the long run.

 

Don’t be afraid to speak up and share ideas during team meetings because this could lead to further connection and brainstorming between you and your superiors. During downtime or breaks, engage with a variety of peers and supervisors to show your enthusiasm with being a part of the team. Bonding with fellow interns is important, but they aren’t the ones offering you a job after graduation.

 

Diving into the office banter and team lunches can be a way to experience coworkers apart from the business setting, which also helps them familiarize themselves with you. You want these people to be able to speak on your behalf, so keep it office appropriate, but be yourself.

 

Connect on Social Media.

Social media is becoming more and more prevalent in everyday life, but it is also becoming more useful for businesses as well. Millennials and members of Gen Z are in the perfect position to use these platforms professionally, because we’re already so familiar from personal use.

 

Connecting on these platforms – and keeping them up-to-date – also  gives you a chance to keep up with your teammates after your internship ends. Something as simple as liking their pictures can keep you on their mind, but congratulating them on a promotion, direct messaging them to grab coffee with you or just checking in with them will be sure to make a lasting good impression.

 

Another quirk to note about social media involves the timing in which you should add your coworkers as “friends.” Adding people on social media too quick can seem forced and not genuine, so it’s better to have established a relationship first before adding them on social media. While you may connect on LinkedIn early on, you may want to wait until closer to the end of the internship to become Facebook “friends.”

 

Take Initiative.

Hopefully, taking initiative has become second nature to you by this time in your college career. Being proactive in helping your coworkers accomplish day-to-day tasks can alleviate their stress, as well as make showcase your skillset and capabilities. Employers love to see interns going above and beyond what is expected of them because it (a) shows you care and (b) helps you stand out.

 

Small tasks that have nothing to do with the job itself, like unloading the dishwasher or volunteering to grab coffee for a coworker, are great places to start when you are unfamiliar with the day-to-day tasks of the job. As silly as they may seem, these simple tasks show you’re invested in your time at the company and eager to be a part of the team.

 

Getting the most out of your PR internship requires many other steps like working hard, sharing valuable ideas, following instructions and meeting deadlines, but networking could possibly be the most long-lasting and critical takeaway from an internship.

 

Interested in applying for an internship at Dittoe PR? You won’t regret it! Learn more about the program and to apply by checking out the spring internship callout. Applications close Sept. 15!

How to Be Proactive With PR: Creating Coverage Out of Thin Air

Public relations professionals thrive during times of client chaos. From product launches and grand openings to initiative and campaign announcements, we basically drool at any opportunity to secure media interest. However, it’s when things calm down that our talents are put to the test.

 

When a lull in client announcements arise, securing coverage can seem near impossible and simply waiting around is never an option. Therefore, our roles require strategic thinking and proactive execution that continues the momentum of telling our clients’ stories.

 

Here are three ways you can take a proactive approach to public relations in order to keep brands in the news:

 

Mark your calendar.

When you’re in proactive PR mode, it’s important to not neglect the basics. Classic strategies can prove wildly successful, that’s why creating a content calendar is the first step toward a proactive approach. Housing all your client’s upcoming product releases, events, and initiatives, as well as any known opportunities to tell their story, will allow you to strategically plan out each PR move in advance.

 

Take it a step further by incorporating any holidays or events into your calendar that align with your client’s messaging. For instance, leveraging national holidays and foodie days between announcements can help garner media coverage for clients while presenting the opportunity to tease any upcoming announcements.

 

Stay trendy.

Often times we get so caught up in our ongoing strategies that we forget to look at the bigger picture. Instead of simply focusing on your client and its direct market, try consistently tuning into what people are talking about worldwide to help keep a pulse on any trends that may present opportunities.

 

The key to capitalizing on a trend is to get on board while the conversation is just picking up. Wait too long, and your brand will be left behind while the trend takes off—without you.

 

Look back at it.

Anticipating future trends is an effective proactive PR approach, but another great way to create media opportunities when things seem slow is to look back at coverage from the previous year. The media industry is rather habitual, with many outlets following a very similar editorial calendar each year. Review past coverage and get creative to give your client a competitive edge on these seasonal topics.

 

The cheer says it best: B-E AGGRESSIVE. The best way to secure coverage is to go after the opportunities they want, as well as the opportunities they may know exist. By implementing these proactive PR approaches and mastering the basics, your agency will help drive the conversation and maintain a steady stream of client coverage.

 

Interested in a proactive PR strategy? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to explore what Dittoe PR could do for you.

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