media training

How to Prepare for a Media Interview with a Journalist - Checklist

Many people are uncomfortable speaking to the public - especially on camera! Whether you are comfortable with public speaking or you're a newbie, there are actions you can take in advance to prepare for a media interview with a journalist. 

Media Climate in 2018

Media training is an essential skill for every entrepreneur and small business owner. A positive relationship with the media can be instrumental to building and managing your brand's reputation. Whether you have a product that needs promotion or a communications crisis; Alchemy Communications media relations training is vital to your business. Our media training provides your team with coaching and practice to deliver your message in a clear, honest and positive voice – even under pressure.

Free Seminar: Media Training and Preparation

Free Calgary Media Training Seminar by PR and communications professional, media expert and serial entrepreneur Kathryn Kolaczek, CEO and founder of Alchemy Communications Inc

Media Interview Blunders to Avoid from a PR Expert


Your social media and PR activity has reached the media: you’ve been contacted by a journalist for an interview.  You know your topic and your message, now you need to prepare for the interview and present yourself as

• professional • knowledgeable • memorable

Digital media has added many opportunities to be interviewed and deliver your message to your target audience. Both interview pros and newcomers can easily be tripped-up by the interview process.  Media and PR expert Kathryn Bechthold has personally given hundreds of media interviews, and trains her clients to avoid making common media interview mistakes.

3 Common Media Interview Blunders

1. Don't use industry jargon

You are being interviewed to talk about a specific topic because your interviewer has researched for an expert on a specific topic, or because you have been pitching your story to the media to get coverage for your new project.  You need to create a key message for this interview.

A key message is the most important thing you want your audience to remember after the interview.

Your key message should be clearly understood and not use industry jargon.  Your job is to prepare for the interview by creating your key message in advance, and practice delivering before the actual interview.

2.  Never go off the record

If you choose to proceed with an off-the-record interview anyway, you should keep the following four tips in mind:

1. Consult with a communications professional – either in your own company, organization, or agency – or with an external firm, preferably one with crisis communications capabilities. You may be unaware of the landmines that exist in your specific case.

2. Consider your relationship with the reporter. Journalists you know well and who have treated you fairly for several years are generally safer risks than reporters you are working with for the first time.

3. Ask the reporter to define exactly what off-the-record means to him or her, preferably in writing.

4. Make any agreements with a reporter in advance of the interview. You can’t say something interesting and then suddenly declare it off the record.

Regardless of any agreement you make, you may still be identified by name as the source. Therefore, the most prudent advice is to remain on-the-record at all times. Even if your name isn’t used, the words a reporter uses to describe your position may make your identity perfectly clear. Unless you’re fully prepared to take that risk, don’t ever speak off-the-record.

3. Always let the interviewer finish their question

In your eagerness to deliver your message to your audience, be careful not to cut the interviewer off before they complete their question. You may be anticipating the wrong question - and give the wrong answer; and you may offend the interviewer and make them hostile to your message. Always listen carefully to the media's question before you deliver your response.

Free eBook:
Media Appearance Preparation and Tip Guide

media interview tips and advice - free ebook
media interview tips and advice - free ebook

TIP: Congratulations: your pitch worked, and you have an interview with a journalist – now what? Download our free ebook: Media Appearance Preparation and Tip Guide filled with PR pro Kathryn Bechthold’s expert advice for media interviews.

Contact Kathryn Bechthold today to schedule media training:

For More Information on Media Relations
Alchemy Communications: 3 Media Training Mistakes to Avoid

Kathryn Bechthold CEO Alchemy Communications
Kathryn Bechthold CEO Alchemy Communications

author: Kathryn Bechthold, Communications expert in Calgary, AB. Owner/CEO of Alchemy Communications Inc.

Crisis Communications: When to Hire a PR Team


The questions don’t do the damage. Only the answers do.

~ Sam Donaldson, reporter and news anchor

The tragedy unfolding this week with the horrific crash of the German passenger plane in the French Alps demonstrates the need to have an informed spokesperson prepared to represent your organization if a public crisis occurs. Crisis communications planning should be an ongoing process for your business, with a plan of action ready to implement if the unthinkable happens. The last thing your organization needs is a series of public media mistakes and missteps when you are most exposed and vulnerable.

The best time to hire a crisis PR team is today, before any public relations disaster has occurred. Your team should anticipate a crisis and be prepared, trained and have a solid plan to follow in the event of a crisis. Time is critical in a PR crisis, and many well-intentioned mistakes can happen in the public and media scrutiny.  Your public relations team will help your business or nonprofit prepare documents, systems and people who know how to handle an emergency:

  • Crisis communications plan: Everyone from the CEO to the receptionist to your internal marketing and sales team needs to know who to turn to with questions and information in a crisis situation. There should be clearly written procedures on who to contact when an event occurs and who is in charge of managing and executing the crisis communication plan. Employees, volunteers, advocates, stakeholders and board members must be clearly informed who is authorized to speak on behalf of your organization.
  • Identified and trained spokespersons: You may use an employee as a spokesperson, or your PR team may handle all public and media inquiries if a crisis occurs. There are benefits to both options:
    • The public and media may respond better to the CEO or other senior member of your team, and have confidence in their visibility
    • a PR professional who is not a member of your team may be better equipped to provide unemotional and professional responses in a very stressful circumstance.
    • More than one person may be needed to communicate with the public: you may have one person designated as a media spokesperson, and another person designated to manage social media. Your crisis communications plan will clearly identify who takes the lead in all crisis communications to develop and deliver all crisis messaging.

Your PR team can help you decide who is best equipped to handle crisis communications, and identify contingency options. Media training for dealing with an aggressive media under the glare of cameras and microphones or on social media should be rehearsed before a crisis event occurs.

  • Contingency plans: No matter how solid your communications plan is, and how well trained your team is on how to handle a crisis, things happen. A PR professional hasalready experienced crisis events with other clients, and can guide you through unexpected turns of event. In todays 24/7/365 instant news cycle and social media world, a story can change in an instant.

Hiring a PR team for crisis communications planning may seem expensive: but hiring a PR team after a crisis occurs to clean up the damage is even more expensive. Hiring public relations professionals to develop a crisis communications strategy before tragedy occurs is a smart investment in your company's future.

For More Reading on Crisis Communications
Meltwater: 10 Step Crisis Communication Management
PR Daily: How to Create a Crisis Plan in Less Than 30 Minutes

Media Tour: A PR Pro's Tips for Your Next Media Interview (Free eBook)

Media relations training is a vital component of your successful business strategy. CEO of Alchemy Communications Kathryn Bechthold doesn't just give her clients basic media tips: as the author of The Entrepreneurial Mom's Guide to Running Your Own Business, the PR pros at Alchemy PR designed Kathryn's media tour of over 300 appearances and interviews.

3 tips for your next media interview:

  1. Never Go Off the Record: anything you say to a reporter is subject to being repeated. If you don't want it repeated, don't say it.
  2. Skype or Hangout: prop your webcam at eye level so the camera is looking directly at you, not up at you.
  3. Speak in Soundbites: practice delivering your message in short, quotable sentences.
Download Alchemy PR's free ebook: Media Appearance Preparation and Training Guide
Download Alchemy PR's free ebook: Media Appearance Preparation and Training Guide

Congratulations! You’ve been hard at work using social media, blogging, and talking to just about anyone who will listen to promote your new product, a first book, or a business launch.

And finally your hard work has paid off: you’ve been contacted by a journalist or producer, or a writer or blogger, and asked to appear as a guest for an interview.

You know your topic and your message: now your job is to prepare for the interview so you present yourself as

 professional • knowledgeable • memorable