By Jennigay Coetzer

media training20 tips to remember when interacting with the media. 




  • Interact in conversational terms with journalists and other media interviewers as if you were talking to a customer. After all, the target readers, listeners or viewers you are trying to reach through the media should be your customers and potential customers.
  • Start building a relationship from the start of the interview by being friendly and engaging.
  • Listen carefully to the media interviewer’s questions and respond directly with strong statements, without any preamble.
  • Speak clearly and concisely and don’t preempt the journalist’s questions.
  • Don’t mumble or leave a sentence unfinished and rush on to something else.
  • If you leave gaps in the information you are imparting it could lead to misinterpretation.
  • Deliberately slow down your pace if you are a fast talker.
  • Good spokespeople portray confidence, but are never arrogant.
  • Don’t assume the media interviewer’s audience have prior knowledge of the topic you are discussing.
  • Avoid marketing speak, industry jargon, unexplained acronyms and over-descriptive words like “UNIQUE.”
  • Know how much time is allotted to the media interview.
  • If the media interviewer is knowledgeable about the topic being discussed, give him or her credit for this and acknowledge their comments.
  • Don’t structure exactly what you want to say beforehand. Otherwise you and the journalist could end up having two different conversations
  • If the media interviewer appears to know what he or she is talking about, go with the flow and wait for opportunities to weave your messages in subtly or steer the conversation in a different direction.
  • Whenever you find yourself interacting with inexperienced journalists, adopt the role of mentor and subtly educate them on the topic. If you do this, they could become a valuable media ally as they become increasingly experienced.
  • Show a real interest in the topic being discussed, otherwise, don’t expect them or their audience to be interested in what you have to say.
  • Good spokespeople don’t waffle – lots of words about nothing, which could result in a fragmented article or leave a live audience confused and unimpressed.
  • When interacting with print journalists don’t jump in to fill the silence gaps – they need to assimilate the information you are imparting and take notes.
  • Spokespeople should avoid speaking about anything about which they have little knowledge.
  • Proper media training with an experienced journalist will help spokespeople to hone their media interaction skills.

Jennigay Coetzer is a  freelance journalist, writer, author and trainer. Email her at jennigay@icon.co.za  for more information about her media training or writing courses or connect with her on LinkedIn. An ebook version of her book A Perfect Press Release – or Not? can be downloaded free from her website: www.jennigay.co.za.

Comments are closed.