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The 7 Interview Habits of Highly Effective Advocates

1. Have an objective in mind for every interview.

  • For example, your objective might be to explain how the issue in question will affect your community, your school, your organization, or your family.

2. Be focused and be brief.

  • Keep responses to a sentence or two. For broadcast media keep them to 8-10 seconds (20–25 words).

3. If it’s a complicated subject, put your best expert forward.

  • If you’re not the best person to comment, say so, and refer the reporter to someone who is more knowledgeable.

  • Never speculate.

4. Never say anything to a reporter that you wouldn’t mind seeing on the front page of the newspaper the next day.

5. A good spokesperson will have 2 or 3 key messages he or she wants to emphasize and will stick to these messages.

  • Your real audience is the people who will read, watch or listen to what’s reported, not the reporter.

  • Avoid jargon or technical language that lay-people won’t understand.

  • Don’t be drawn off on a tangent and away from your interview objective.

6. Respect reporters’ time, their deadlines and their need to get accurate information or a comment from you.

  • It’s a two-way relationship. At some point you’ll need them, so it pays to be helpful when they need you.

7. Always tell the truth. It’s easier to remember.

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