4 rules for when a journalist calls

Business

After spending hours searching journalists’ contact details and writing up interesting, newsworthy pitches, it can be very easy to panic when a journalist does comes calling.

However, there’s no need to fret, as we’ve come up with four rules to help keep your cool and turn your news story into a successful public relations opportunity.

  1. Have a plan: Before you send out your pitch, you should know the availability of your organisation’s spokesperson. Do not send a media release to the media if you don’t have someone available to do interviews on that day. Also consider what photos or videos you can provide, or extra facts and figures, ahead of the day.
  2. Buy time: Once you’re asked for an interview, see if you can buy some time. Don’t answer questions straight away. Tell the journalist you’ll call them back in half an hour. Calm your nerves and get ready.
  3. Ask for the details: It’s important when talking to the journalist that you ask for their details, if they haven’t already provided it. Additionally, you’ll want to ask these questions:
    • Who is the journalist that’s calling and what publication do they work for?
    • What type of interview do they want? Is it a chat over the phone or do they want to interview you in front of a camera?
    • When does the journalist need the interview?
    • Where should the interview take place?
    • What sort of questions will they be asking you?
  4. Prepare and execute: The more details you get from the journalist, the easier it will be to prepare for the interview. Do a mock interview beforehand and practice what sort of questions they’re likely to ask. It’s important to know who your audience is and remember not to stray from your key messages. Finally, don’t be shy when being interviewed, project confidence and have fun telling your story.