I was recently asked to write a blog post about what not to say in an interview with a journalist but the truth is, apart from the obvious social faux pas – there is no hard and fast rule about what not to say.
So I’m going to give you some guidelines to follow, instead and if you stick to these you won’t go far wrong:
Know your own personal sharing limits
There are certain things in my life that I don’t like to share in the public domain and I’m acutely aware that once a story has gone to print. Especially online, then it’s there forever. Like a personal blueprint that will never be erased.
So to keep an interview inside of my comfort zone I always have a small list of subjects or details that I don’t want to share. When you’re in an informal chat (that’s being documented) with a journalist it’s very easy for the ebbs and flow of a conversation to lead to personal things and you’ll quickly find that you’ve told them all about your last colonoscopy and how you were born with an extra earlobe.
Only make a small, bulleted list of topics
I never recommend that people make a heavy topic list when being interviewed. Aside from the fact that it will confuse you, you’ll likely end up sounding scripted and a bit like a deer caught in the headlights.
Instead, go for a shortlist of single topics that are bulleted to use as prompts, and just make sure that you practice beforehand, so that you know the important points within the subjects.
What about a plug?
One of the reasons you’re even doing this interview is to get a plug for your business. Whether it’s talked about on the radio or it comes in the form of a link back to your website from an online article, my best advice would be – don’t be shy.
Remember, interviews are a great way for journalists to create content and this is a two-way transaction: you’re supplying content and they’re supplying a platform, so now is not the time to be coy.
Now, unless a journalist has given specific instructions to not plug your business (this often happens on radio) then talking about what you do, within the context of the conversation and not just for the sake of it, is perfectly ok.