In our line of business, we happen to contact several entrepreneurs who have not interacted
with any journalist/media house before us. Because these are not media-savvy people, they turn out to be extremely cooperative and/or way too skeptical. Now, no one is blaming them for being like that. However, these are some pointers that can help:
Begin with understanding certain things for your knowledge
Ask about the publication/station/channel that this story is being done for. It is imperative that you understand the positioning of it for you to answer in the right perspective. Now, do understand that even if it is a publication/station/channel that you have not heard of – it does not necessarily mean that someone is trying to scam you. Ask for a website, sample of the magazine, and so on for verification. Also ask for a deadline and get an idea about the story, so that you can prepare yourself for the interaction. Get the contact details of the journalist you are interacting with (email address, office phone number, cell number, etc)
Please do not keep postponing the interaction
As mentioned above, you did ask them for their deadline, yes? You might have genuine reasons why you cannot make it for the interaction on the set day/time. But the journalist has to file the story on his deadline. It will be nice if you at least give them a heads up about this well in advance, and reschedule the interaction some time within the set deadline.
Speak in the language you are comfortable interacting in
It is the information and matter that matters; not your fluency in English. Please do not feel pressurized to speak in a language in which you know that you will stutter or stammer in the major portion of the interaction.
Request the journalist to facilitate the interaction in a language that is comfortable for you and at the same time can be understood by the journalist. This way, you will be able to get things across in much more lucid way. The journalist can always seek help in understanding jargon later.
Pay attention to the questions, and stay focused when answering.
Hear out the question, take a breath and channelize your thoughts before starting to speak. Yes, we understand you are excited about the interaction, and you want to use this opportunity to talk about the latest things you are doing at your company. However, if the question does not call for it – refrain from dragging everything into gassing about your products, services, and other pros of your company.
There are only a handful of entrepreneurs who do not meander away while answering. In my personal experience, NR Narayana Murthy is the best example I can quote. He is as crisp as it can get while answering a question asked. This interview he gave us is transcribed in verbatim.
Also, since this is your first interaction and in your excitement you might have ended up saying something that is better left off the record. Do not hesitate to request the journalist to keep it off the record. Contrary to the common belief, journalists do have ethics.
Do not hesitate to give away your photographs.
If asked for photographs, please provide them. The reader/viewer can connect to what is being said if there is a face that he/she can see. No one is asking for a professionally shot passport-photo; give some photo which has you more in a relaxed or candid pose – trust us, it looks good. Provide photographs that are of good quality i.e. decent digital camera quality, at the least.
Also, if you are not asked for photographs, do not force-request them to carry one. It is perhaps a story that is not being designed to accommodate certain/any pictures.
While talking about pictures, we understand the zeal to be on the cover of the magazine. If you are worth it, it will be published just there. Do not ‘demand’ for your photo to be published on the cover.
Please do not overdo the hospitality.
The journalist coming over for a meeting for an interaction is just doing his/her job. Do not overdo the hospitality part, in the hope that he/she will give you better coverage. Simply be courteous, do what is necessary.
Follow up and keep in touch.
Once the story is published – ask where you can find the copy of the magazine / newspaper / journal / webpage address, etc. If you want extra copies for the record or distribution purpose, request for it – it is likely that that can be arranged for. You can also try requesting for a PDF of the story if it has been published in the print medium.
You now have the contact details of the journalist you interacted with. Every once in a while, why don’t you drop a line on email, text, or a call perhaps? It always helps to remain in touch – both ways.
Publicize the coverage in various mediums.
Congratulations on being covered by the media. Now, publicize that coverage. Include links to the coverage web page / website / video in your email signatures, your email newsletters, on your website, on your twitter / linkedin / facebook / orkut, and such.