So your PR team has finally lined up your first media opportunity. Hopefully they’ve adhered to the principles of crafting a killer pitch, and the journalist that wants to talk to you has the right idea about what you’re an expert on, and what you’re prepared to talk about. If that’s not the case, you may be in for a rough interview.
What follows are some tips for how to give an absolutely killer interview to the financial press.
Be (and stay) informed
This one may seem obvious, but it’s also the most important. If a reporter sets aside the time to speak to you or your spokesperson, and you don’t deliver any new insights, or, worse, are uninformed about the topic, you may never hear from the reporter again, and it will likely be a very short interview. It’s crucial that you stay on top of developing trends and breaking news in your space, especially leading up to the interview, so that you don’t end up putting your foot in your mouth when you’re on the phone with a reporter.
The ultimate goal of many PR campaigns is to get spokespeople quoted in the press, or get mentioned in the news. If you do not hold strong views on the topic you’re discussing with a reporter, or if you hedge your opinions with wishy-washy language, it’s unlikely that the reporter will quote you. Opinionated people make for great quotes, which make it easier for a reporter to do their job and tell a good story to their readers.
Be a contrarian
Nothing makes a reporter more likely to open an email pitch than the prospect of a contrarian opinion. And few things make for a better story than opposing viewpoints. If your point of view happens to run contrary to the prevailing wisdom on a given topic, this is a strength to be harnessed in the service of your public relations goals.
This one is harder to tackle, but is definitely worth mentioning. Not only do PR campaigns aim to make you or your spokespeople useful to reporters, the longer-term goal is to develop an ongoing relationship with the reporter, so that they will reach out to you when they need further information or quotes for a story they’re working on. A reporter in the financial press is bombarded with dozens, if not hundreds, of pitches per day. They speak to more spokespeople than they can count or remember. So if you want to be the one the reporter thinks to reach out to when they’re on deadline and need to get a good quote, it’s important to make sure you stick out in the reporter’s mind. How do you do this? Embrace whatever it is about you that makes you unique and memorable. Don’t mask your personality when you speak with a reporter—make sure they see you as a real person, not just a voice on the other end of a telephone.
When a reporter in the financial press is putting together a story and they get a source (that’s you!) on the phone, they’re not looking for vague platitudes—they can get those from anyone. They’re looking for the inside scoop that only you can provide them, and this requires a crucial element: details. As any writer will tell you, specific details are the lifeblood of any story, whether it’s a piece in the financial news, or a 19th century Russian novel.
Once you’re on the phone with a reporter, it’s up to you to give them the goods. By following these simple tips, you’ll be well on your way to providing killer interviews, and becoming a valuable source for the financial press.