Tips for Fabulous Print Interviews

business newspaper section

As you go about landing media coverage for your book, I offer tips to help make the process easier. To that end, I would like to begin with a little story followed by some tips that will be helpful to you…

This past week had a number of great highlights, one of which was landing Forbes magazine. Not a submission and certainly not a paid for article – or pay-for-play, as it’s called – but rather an actual journalist conducting an interview with my author. In addition, we got the top media company in all of Canada to cover her in their national lifestyle spotlight. This is both online and in their actual newspapers, so needless to say, it was a great week for her – and for me.

(I am happy to share links to these stories once they are published, but for now they are “still in the works.”)

I share this not to brag, but to show how you can do this too. Landing the interview is one thing, delivering is another. So the question is, “How do you do feature interviews?” Here are some tips to make you look like a pro when you are doing print:

Tip #1: Take your time

Print is different from broadcast media in that it’s OK to take some time and actually think through your answers. For broadcast it’s all about energy, being succinct, getting to the point quickly, and being educational while also being entertaining.

With print, you can even stop during an interview and ask, “Am I giving you what you need for your story?” Or, “May I take a little time to think about this?” Or, “May we come back to this question?” (And then make sure you do!) It’s totally OK to do this, and actually makes you appear more professional by showing you care that the journalist gets what they need from the interview.

Tip #2: No one word answers. Ever.

As mentioned above, usually with print interviews there is time. However, it is a good practice before you even start the interview to ask them how much time you have together. Once you know, you get a sense of how much to elaborate on your answers and give some details, which you must do. You must make it a story that is compelling and interesting.

In addition to asking what your book is about, the interviewer may ask how you came up with the idea, did you write stories as a kid, do you follow your own advice, have you won any awards, how do audiences respond to your suggestions, and so forth. You want to give them robust and interesting answers. They want to know more about you, so be ready to share. Print reporters build stories. Help them do that.

Tip #3: Be honest

Be as honest as you can with the journalist interviewing you. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s OK to say you don’t know, and it is much better than trying to “wing it” with an answer, particularly if you are just guessing. That could come back to haunt you, so don’t do it. Another option is to say you’d be happy to get the answer to them following the interview. Then be sure and do so.

Tip #4: Speak in complete sentences

It’s very difficult to follow and quote people who continually interrupt themselves. For some people this is a very bad habit, and many are unconscious that they even are doing it. This is another argument for media training. A media trainer will spot the problem in a second, or at the very least, you can do some mock interviews. When you play it back, hearing yourself from a different perspective, may bring it to the forefront. Knowing you do it is the first step toward changing it.

Remember, stay enthusiastic, keep your energy up, and speak in complete sentences. Otherwise, there is a tendency on the part of the interviewer to think the interviewee is not very bright and that is NOT an impression you want to leave anyone with, particularly the media.

Bottom line

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so I’ll be sharing more soon. The point is that all a journalist really wants to do is turn in a great story. When you know how to help them do that, it will help you and your book tremendously.

To your success!


P.S. For the past couple of weeks we have focused on podcasts. I was interviewed by Dr. Joshua Black for his show called Grief Dreams some time ago. I share more than you would ever want to know, but just for fun…here it is.





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