Coming up with a new product or service for your business isn’t always easy. At times it may feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. You will search your brain over and over again to find that one thing you’re looking for – something unique and innovative. You will find yourself investing all of your time and energy into making this one idea a great success, and while you do your mind will wonder back and forth wondering whether it will work and how to win your customers over. At times your idea may take off quicker than expected and everyone wants to know more about your product. It’s time to launch it and suddenly you find yourself in the spotlight at the centre of media attention…

“What is so unique about this product?” Or “Why should customers invest their money in this product?” are some of the questions that journalists and critics will all be racing to the front row of the press conference to ask you. While you may be thinking it’s great that you’ve managed to gain so much media attention, you don’t want to say anything wrong that may risk damaging the reputation of your company, or become the victim of a journalist who puts a negative spin on the story. And before you even have time to think, fear gets the better of you – your heart starts pounding, you begin to experience a rollercoaster of emotions and adrenalin pumps through your entire body. But be assured, it doesn’t all have to be blood, sweat and tears – the key is knowing how to handle media attention.

I’ve worked in a marketing and publicity role for over three years now. Over time I have been responsible for promoting the company and raising awareness of the profile within the local community. I gained a real sense of satisfaction every time I managed to gain positive press coverage within the media. It meant that we were gaining exposure and as a result meeting fundamental aims and objectives. I worked on various projects at the same time and my workload would vary from networking with other businesses and clients, managing the company’s social media presence, writing press releases, dealing with media enquiries and managing various marketing campaigns.

For one particular project, it was my responsibility to recruit local businesses and get them to sign up to an entrepreneurial scheme where they mentor young people through a business venture. I found that the most effective marketing tool was gaining media coverage. I learned the importance of being prepared when it comes to media interviews. I’d advise anyone who has a media interview to do their homework in advance so you always have the upper hand and avoid a story spiralling out of control.  Here’s how to handle a media interview…

  • Promote key messages

The journalist will already have a number of questions to ask you and an idea of the direction they want to take the interview. Remember to not let this be a distraction and focus on the main point of the interview – to promote. Preparation is vital so think about statistics, case studies and evidence to back up your claims. It’s important to highlight the positive attributes of your company.  Remember to sound as natural as possible.

  • Make a good impression 

Answer questions clearly and concisely. Aim to sound positive and enthusiastic. Shake off any nerves that you have beforehand so you remain calm, composed and confident throughout. Presentation is key so make sure you convey positive body language and dress in a professional manner.

  • Answer tactfully

Answering “No comment” provides the journalist with an opportunity to write a story which builds to existing speculation and rumours. It also makes them think that you are hiding something so try to explain why you are unable to answer the question. Perhaps you are waiting for results from a survey and cannot share the outcome until a later date. Never lie in an interview either.

  • Treat the interview as if it’s live

Imagine that you only have one take so answer as best as you can first time round. You may want to gain advice from media professionals to help prepare for anticipated questions and the best way to answer. Mosaic Media Training offer support in this area. Never go into an interview unprepared and remember that it may help to hold a mock press conference beforehand.

  • Do your research

It’s best to know what you’re going into so ask the journalist for details beforehand. You may be able to request the bank of questions that the journalist will be asking you on the day in advance of the interview which will help with your preparation. Press conferences come in all shapes and sizes so the more you know the better prepared you will feel. Try to find out how many journalists and reporters you will expect on the day and prepare media packs for them.

What have your experiences of engaging with the media been? Do you have any additional tips to share with other businesses? Don’t forget to leave a comment below or let us know via social media.