How To Successfully Prepare Your Clients for Media Interviews

Feb 20, 2023

There’s no way around it: media interviews are stressful, whether it’s your client’s first or 101st time in front of a camera. They need to be prepared for whatever the interviewer throws at them and might have to answer tough questions on the fly, all in a super high-pressure environment! If your client doesn’t feel comfortable and confident, their interview won’t produce the killer feature you both want…so it’s up to you as their PR pro to ensure that doesn’t happen

How to Get Your Clients Ready for Media Interviews

Lots of press plans include media interviews, and for good reason: they’re a super impactful way to get your client’s message to their audience! But fear, anxiety, and discomfort can leave your clients panicking and shying away from such a key opportunity. Here are six powerful interview prep strategies to help your clients crush their next chat with the media

Get Your Client’s Assets In Order 

This is a preparation tip for you just as much as it’s for your client. Honestly, you should get your client’s assets together before you pitch them for anything, let alone media interviews! 

The specific assets you’ll need may differ based on your niche, but you’ll likely require updated photography and headshots, a complete press kit, samples, and updated website links. Your interviewer might request additional assets like a video or podcast reel, company fact sheet, or interviewee bio. If your client doesn’t have any of these, you need to get on that ASAP! 

When you have your client’s assets on lock, you can confidently and easily pitch them as soon as you discover media interview opportunities. You won’t have to waste time tracking down your clients for additional assets, and the interviewer won’t have to waste their time tracking you down to get ahold of assets. This makes everyone’s jobs much easier: you and your client can focus on prepping for the interview and kicking stress to the curb, while the interviewer can get started on the writing process right away.

Prepare and Share a Briefing Document 

As soon as your client’s media interview is confirmed, you should start writing up a briefing document to share with them. A briefing document includes all the information your client needs to know for interview prep: general themes and topics of the conversation, the recommended messaging, any anticipated questions, specific quotes or statistics your client should use, and technical meeting details like date, time, location, and the interviewer’s contact info. 

A good, thorough briefing document helps the interview run smoothly and keeps your client on track, but it’s just a starting point for your media interview prep! It’s a helpful guide for more targeted preparation, and you and your client can expand on it during your 1-on-1 chats leading up to the interview. 

Explain How You’ll Participate in Media Interviews 

It’s pretty common for PR pros to sit in on client interviews, whether they’re online, on the phone, or in person. But if your client has never done a media interview before, they might not even realize this! You won’t have a ton of input during the actual conversation (obviously — you’re not the focus here!), but your client should be prepared for you to jump in when necessary. 

Explain to your client why you’ll be present for the interview and what your purpose will be during the conversation. Remember, your presence should give them confidence! Don’t cause unnecessary stress by emphasizing how you’ll correct them on inaccurate stats or redirect the conversation if they go on a tangent. 

Instead, remind them that you’re there as another layer of reassurance that the interview will go well. You’ll get things back on track if the interviewer goes off-script, your client blanks on an example or anecdote you’d prepped together, or your client is asked about an upcoming launch they can’t comment on yet.

Give Your Client Some Homework 

No one likes homework, but trust me — this assignment is nothing like high school! Your client should be familiar with the interviewer and their publication before the interview even begins. Send them a handful of the interviewer’s most recent pieces and some of the publication’s most relevant articles or videos to review, whether that’s in the briefing document or a separate email. 

This homework is a super important part of preparing for media interviews. Beyond finding something to connect with their interviewer over, your client will get a better understanding of their interviewer’s tone and expertise and learn more about the publication’s audience and its overall voice. 

If your client is new to media interviews, give them a heads up that their language may have to change depending on the interviewer and their audience. Your client may need to tone down the industry jargon and find ways around using those terms, or they might have to emphasize technical details they’re not used to explaining every day. It’s always easier to prep these workarounds beforehand instead of coming up with them on the fly!

Hold a Mock Media Interview

Whether your client has done dozens of media interviews or is heading into their first one, holding a mock interview is one of the best ways to prepare! They’ll get more comfortable speaking in an interview environment (even without the bright lights and cameras) and will know what to expect from the real thing. If you’re prepping for a virtual interview, bonus points if you can simulate the tech set up the interviewer will use!

During your mock interview, you’ll act as the interviewer. Start by asking your client basic questions before moving on to ones the actual interviewer may ask — the goal is to get them prepared and ready for whatever happens. During the conversation, you can take notes on what your client needs to improve on, or you can record your video call and review the footage together for feedback afterward.  

This is an exercise for yourself just as much as it is for your client. During the mock interview, you’ll get a better sense of your client’s public speaking strengths and weaknesses and can adjust your strategies accordingly. 

Remind Them That They Can Do This! 

After reading the interviewer’s recent pieces, running through language shifts, and conducting a mock interview, your client’s anxiety around media interviews should have lessened. But knowing you’ve prepared is not the same as feeling prepared! Even if your client knows their stats and key messaging like the back of their hand, pre-interview jitters can always sneak in and throw things off course.  

This is where you come in! As their PR pro, you’re there to support your client and help them succeed through it all —  and that includes stage fright. 

Take some time before the interview to reassure your client and make sure they feel comfortable and confident. If you’re able to be with them right before the conversation, you can shake off the nerves together with a quick pep talk. If not, give them some grounding exercises to complete for a pre-interview confidence boost. 

Related: Why Mindfulness in Business is So Important (and 7 Tips to Get Started!)

Media interviews are stressful, but they don’t have to wreak havoc on your client’s confidence! The key to knocking interviews out of the park is thorough, targeted preparation. And with these six strategies, your client will start nailing their interviews in no time!