The economics of many social enterprises can be oversimplified into the following: The inherent good of the mission increases their cost of goods (because they employ marginalized talent, reach underserved customers, or pursue some other noble end that will erode margins); and, if they’re lucky, that same goodness reduces marketing costs (by attracting editorial coverage, social sharing, or some other amplifier), thus canceling out the higher costs so that they can pay the bills.

So if you’re working in this arena, leveraging your mission to attract attention isn’t just good for you; it’s critical to your survival.

Attracting media attention isn’t just good for you; it’s critical to your survival. Tweet This Quote

Few things can help accomplish that like a great media interview. If you were born speaking in sound bites or had the luxury of getting formal media training, stop reading. For everyone else, there’s one sure way to make sure you make the most of a media interview, and it can be summed up in one word: “practice.”

In case you don’t have the time or money for a professional media coach to tell you what you should practice, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:

  • Decide what two or three key message points you want to make, and stick to them no matter what—regardless of what questions are asked
  • Front load your messages and be succinct, because you never know how much time you’ll get. The modern sound bite is only six seconds.
  • Show your passion for what you’re doing. Your energy, more than your words, will draw the audience in.
  • Know the reporters’ style and interests. Research them as they would research you.
  • Practice, practice, practice, practice. And practice.

To the first point, use bridging statements to get back to your message points as quickly as possible. Examples of these:

  • “I think the question we really ought to ask is…”
  • “That’s a good point, but I think your audience would be interested in knowing that…”
  • “That’s not my area of expertise, but what I can tell you is…”
  • “Let me put it in perspective.”

To the last point, when you practice, find someone to play the reporter role and run through a mock interview. Do that at least twice, and record each session so your most demanding critic (you) can listen and/or watch and improve your performance with every session.

About the author

Rajesh Anandan

Rajesh Anandan

Rajesh Anandan is SVP of UNICEF Ventures at UNICEF USA, Co-Creator of Kid Power—the world's first wearable-for-good—and Co-founder of ULTRA Testing, a high performance software testing company that employs individuals on the Autism Spectrum. @UltraRajesh

  • Andrew

    To the first point, use bridging statements to get back to your message points as quickly as possible.. hmmm

  • surffox

    Like many things in life, practice makes perfect. Even in live situations, if you have done your preparation, you can handle most situations with a positive response and redirect to stay on point.

  • Cameron Sides

    Practice does make perfect. To the point of “show your passion”, there is no better way in sales than showing why you believe in a certain product, because if you believe in it so will the consumer.

  • Jresnic1

    Knowing how to talk to press is a skill that is not focused on as much as it should be. In the time that we live in, most people find out their information from the news or social media. Knowing how to portray your social enterprise for the press pays off many times over in the long run.

  • Bangyan Zhang

    I do love this sentence. “Show your passion for what you’re doing. Your energy, more than your words, will draw the audience in” My father usually told me this meaning as well. It’s educational. Show more passion in action rather than words. It is epigram for me and for entrepreneurs I think.

  • MajdaNaf

    I agree with most of the above. Having had some experience talking to different media outlet about my project, I would advise you to also consider the following:
    – don’t assume that the reporter is knowledgeable about your field or completely buys into your idea. You spend most of your time with people that understand your project, and have the same goals and motivation as you, but don’t forget to be as comprehensive as possible when explaining what is it that you do. Explain as if you were talking to a 5 year old.
    – try to get as much information about why the reporter is doing the article/interview about your startup. Is it part of a broader article (say, about innovation, or environment or…)? It is solely focused on your company? If you can figure out what the reporter is *truly* looking for, you can best prepare for it. So don’t hesitate to ask questions and let the reporter be crystal clear about her objectives.
    – reiterating what the author said in the article, I can’t emphasize how important preparation is! As the saying goes “if you’re not over-prepared, you’re under-prepared”. One thing I would add to that, is to try to meet with your team before a media appearance. Maybe you missed something that needs to be conveyed and your team will bring that to your attention. It would also allow you to deliver a unified and representative message.

  • abott88

    So true! I’ve only rarely had an experience with the media where the reporter seemed to know much about the mission of our organization or the field. If you come in prepared to share your mission like you would to others in your field, you’re not going to be understood. And the suggestion of trying to learn what angle the reporter is taking is something I’ll try to remember from now on! Great suggestions!

  • JeremyWahl

    knowing how to talk in a press conference is not an easy skill. there can be some people are trying to put words in your mouth to make headlines, and then there are people trying to get the truth. I do believe actions speak louder than words. If you are energetic and passionate in what you are talking about, people will be more interested in hearing what you are talking about. As in anything, practice does make perfect.

  • Kaylee Raucci

    I don’t believe practice makes perfect I believe practice keeps you average. You can always improve and if you’re just practicing the same thing over and over you’ll never improve. Sometimes even when you practice all the time you still mess up, so there’s no guarentees with “practice makes perfect”, but practicing does help. Other than this I agree with thearticle. Keeping is short and sweet is key, and when you are stumped with something using bridging statements is a smart thing to do. It’s a way to get them thinking through your eyes and not just how they see it.

  • Brad Vogel

    Truthfully, I don’t think talking to the press is anything to practice for. Most of the time, the press finds ways to spin what we say to “create a story” when there’s not even one to be made.

    One of the biggest issues any business will face now is social media. So many people on social media think they are experts and regardless of what you say, someone is going to convince others that you said something else.

    But that’s on us as a society for believing everything the media tells us.

  • thompsonjm99

    Interesting blog! I don’t think that talking to the press should be as important as it has become. Anything that someone says can be twisted and manipulated in some way that can make the person look better or worse. Press leads to social media which leads to consequences because our society has become heavily dependent on social media. Do you think that press should be avoided at all costs?

  • knapprl17

    This is very helpful. I have never talked to the press but I believe that these tips will be useful for interviews to. It is important to be passionate about what your interviewing for, you need to research the company, and practice. I am going to use these tips for the interviews I have coming up.

  • d_millyy

    Thank you for this article it can be actually very helpful, people tend to choke up or ramble when they’re asked questions especially in front of the media. Therefore, if you have a plan then you can get your point across and that can help with your publicity. The question I have is if you’re has to question you don’t want to answer is it better to just answer it slightly or tell them you’re not answering that question?

  • Mitch Sween

    Thank you for this article. These might be good things to practice not only profession interview but for job interview or any other professional setting.

  • ReneeKirch19

    Thanks for the helpful article! I too have never talked to the press but this advice would be very helpful for future job interviews. I am currently a senior in college so I will be going through a variety of interviews very soon. I liked the piece of advice you gave about showing your passion for what you do. I think that is especially important when going through the interview process. Employers need to know how passionate you are about your job, and if they see that, they will take you more seriously. Do you find that attracting media is a hard thing to do?

  • Matthew Manley-Browne

    Thanks for the article! I feel that this article would be useful for those who are interested in a career in media or Journalism or those who need advice on how to prepare for an interview. One question I have is whether you think that media attention is useful to have in many different career fields.

  • Caleb Franklin

    Thanks for this and I see this as a great tool for future job interviews as well. As far as the media goes I think it’s very true that your words can get very twisted so you need to be concise with your choice of words.

  • thomas kearney

    Thanks for this article. I think the press sometimes can be a little over top. I think this article was a very good insight of how to handle the press if we are ever confronted with a sticky situation. Decide what two or three key message points you want to make, and stick to them no matter what—regardless of what questions are asked. I think this statement that you mentioned in the article is key because a lot of people can get off tasks and loose focus on whats important

  • Matthew Manley-Browne

    I agree with you, often times the press reports on information that is not as important as the bigger picture, this tends to make people view the situation differently often in a negative way.

  • Steffiheuer

    Thank you for your article! I really liked the last few lines of your article. I believe it is very important to run through things before the actual interview or whatever you may be doing. I am taking an online course where we must record ourselves before even giving our speech. I find that to be extremely helpful for my public speaking. That was just something in your article that really stood out to me.

  • adrianaferreyra04

    Thanks for the great tips! I like the way that the article is written. The way that we word certain sentences is very important and can create an entirely different mood if said in the right tone. Practice indeed does make perfect.

  • GSonDUBS

    Great tips!!! I would of never thought of these. I don’t know what are the chances I’ll be famous/important enough to get interviewed one day, but now I have an idea on what to do.

  • Persophine Reid Tiapula

    lots of awesome tips I will definitely keep these in mind for the future!

  • Ashley Gardner

    I totally agree. Words can be read in so many different context. It is very important to get your message across in the correct tone. Practice totally does make perfect.

  • Kayla Martin

    Front loading your message is probably the one thing i have learned throughout college. I can’t get through a presentation if it is more then 15 minutes long I get bored and tired and zone out. So I just assume the most important information is at the beginning and if it isn’t I won’t learn it.

  • Travis Mattice

    This was a good article to read. It has some good points and they should be followed. I think this can be said about almost anything but practice makes perfect. When it comes to the media you definitely want to get it right. They can take anything you say and make it sound not the way you intended it to. So with them you definitely need to get it right.

  • milkienr18

    I think that this article can be applied to public speaking for anyone one of the biggest keys to speaking publicly is to know who your audience is and knowing how to approach the conversation. I think it is very important to research your audience that why you will know what to say or how to say things. Also it is very important to practice a few times with different people that way you will be prepared for what ever comes your way on the day of the interview.

  • Nathan Tessar

    I believe that you need to full practice what you are going to say to the media because they are always looking for something that is sticking out of the ordinary. I believe that the media does make things bigger then what they seem but if you practice and do everything right, they will only think your boring and that’s nothing to be ashamed about.

  • Emily Krueger

    I agree with this article about how you should know what your are going to talks about to the reporter. Like how you share some tips on how to deal with the reporters. I believe that the media does twist fact about the story. Thank you for writing this blog because if I would ever have to talk with a reporter I remember the tips you shared on this site

  • maxfunny

    I heard from one of my teacher as long as you say what you want to hear that is what your audience hears. Keeping to your point is the best thing you can do when doing any public speaking. It is always better to saw nothing them something stupid to be rewrote and cut up.

  • ZakFritz

    I have a huge problem with this. I always say something stupid that I cannot take back. If I could learn to stop that I would be much better off.

  • maxfunny

    Yea , but it is hard not to especially in the heat of the moment. Sometimes it’s good though but that’s far and few and in between.

  • Jpl89

    I really enjoyed this aéticle slot I. It shows how the media plays a crucial role in the survival for most buisnesses. Without the media peel would not be able to gain recombination and plurality for the things that they are involved with.