Your heart is pounding, you're wearing more makeup than a Kardashian and you feel like your deodorant is breaking down. As a professional journalist with more than 25 years of experience, I've witnessed my share of pre-interview nerves; and as a business owner myself now, I've quaked in my shoes just like you.
The awesome thing about getting media attention is that you now have a chance to tell your story to an engaged audience of hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of ideal prospects. The problem is, if you're not crystal clear on your message, it can be almost impossible to monetize your media exposure.
Good news: it's not about you
Unless you're already famous, the media doesn't really care about who you are or what you do. They only care about one thing and one thing only -- their audience. Which allows you to shift your energy from being nervous about your performance to wanting to serve the audience to the best of your ability. What nugget of information would you like to share with them? What tip or strategy can they immediately implement? Do you have a clever sound byte to help them remember your core message?
Benjamin Franklin once said, "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."
Answer "what" with your "why"
You've heard how you need to polish up your elevator pitch, right? Well, I got good news and bad news. The bad news is that nobody cares what you do unless they know why you do it. Most responses to the question, "So tell us about your company," land pretty flat.
In his book The Media Training Bible, Brad Phillips, a former journalist for ABC News and CNN, shares an excellent example of a typical response to this question: "We're the nation's leading toy store with over 25 branches." BO-RING! Most people go on and on about who they are, what they do, what their products are and so on. Nobody really cares about what you're selling. No one really wants to know how large or small your company is.
What they want is a story; a reason to care. And possibly the best way to make your passion infectious is to do what Phillips suggests and answer their "what" with your "why".
What's your mission?
It can be overwhelming to think about your mission or purpose, especially when you're in the startup phase and you're basically defying gravity with the sheer force of your unreasonableness (don't ask me how I know). But think about the problem your product or service solves. And listen carefully for the way your ideal clients describe either their pain or aspirations.
So that toy company exec might say, "We believe in the importance of play. Because of this, we're dedicated to bringing the best toys to children everywhere. This is why we're the leading toy store with over 25 branches nationwide."
The way the statement is framed focuses heavily on the benefit for the viewer, reader or listener as opposed to puffery about the company itself.
Control the context
Sometimes when folks focus on delivering sound bytes and being brief, they can take it too far. While a snappy response is encouraged, answering a question too directly can leave you vulnerable to being taken out of context. Remember, controversy sells. So you want to protect yourself by using a simple technique to control context by crafting a preamble.
This is a topic I dug into in an episode of the Baby Got Booked podcast where I interviewed crisis communications guru Gerard Braud. His advice is to prepare 3 key statements ahead of time so you can never be caught off guard.
A general explanation of what your company does and how it benefits the world. E.g. At (company name) our goal is to (a big, audacious statement about how you make the world better).
An empathetic-type pre-amble you'd use in a crisis. E.g. "Our hearts are heavy with news we have to share..."
And finally a way to frame a controversial topic: "State two contrasting truths and then provide your opinion," says Braud. E.g. "Maybe you think A, maybe you think Z, but what I think is ____)."
Have a clear call to action
When I train members of my PR course to go into a live interview, I have them write down the one thing they want audience members to do during or after their segment. Writing it down has the quasi-magical effect of really focusing one's intent. More often than not, people will realize that they thought they knew their call to action but didn't know quite how to word it.
The important point to remember here is that whether you're offering a discount code, a free ebook or a ticket to an event, it needs to feel like they're going to get way more out of it than you are.
If you've done a good job of communicating your passion and your mission and are now offering a simpler or cheaper-than-usual way for folks to sample your goodies, you're going to love how the added credibility of being featured by a trusted media source adds to your bottom line.