Think only newbies need to practice for media interviews? Wrong. Even high-profile people who've done countless interviews can go off-message if they don't prepare. Check out these examples:
- John Stamos thought he was being interviewed about an art show. ET's Nancy O'Dell did ask about the show, but she also asked about the scandal surrounding his long-time co-star Lori Laughlin. Stamos should not have been surprised by this, or the fact that other media outlets picked up on his Laughlin-related comments. A better response to O'Dell's questioning would have been, "I am here to talk about this wonderful art show." He wasn't under any obligation to answer a question he clearly didn't want to be asked. Stamos is right about always keeping your guard up when facing the media.
"Gotcha" questions are often asked late in an interview. That way the interviewee doesn't storm off without answering any questions. The interviewer has lulled him/her into a comfortable place before asking hardball questions.
- Following his latest interview with Sports Illustrated, I'd say A-Rod needs a fresher course on media interviews and some diversity training. He actually identified his celebrity Met Gala dinner companions by their race. He also had to backtrack on his comments about Kylie Jenner.
- Any time you sit down for an interview with a hard-hitter like Gayle King, you need to be ready for anything. I think Instagram's Adam Mosseri held his own during most of this clip. He admitted he is often asked about the eavesdropping allegations. But King caught him off guard when she asked if he had personally experienced this. He looked up as if searching for an answer up there. His response was weak. He may like the ads on Instagram, but users certainly do not.
The best way to prepare for a media interview is to take part in a mock interview session. If you don't opt to hire a professional media coach, ask a friend or family member to put some questions to you--and videotape the practice. Make sure whoever preps you is tough and gives you honest feedback.
Women Media Pros offers both private and group media training sessions.