Five Ways to Derail a Press Interview

Motivating key reporters to write about your company is one of the most important things you’ll do. You’ve mastered the two Ds—differentiation and disruption – but the streets of the Valley are littered with companies that had better products, yet failed to succeed.

So you‘ve done the right thing. You’ve worked closely with a communications agency like Karbo Com to develop your branding and messaging, and together you’ve strategically planned for an announcement, a launch, or simply a single interview to discuss a critical trend. Now it’s time to communicate in a way that will get reporters excited about what you’re doing. Visions of features dance in your head. What could possibly go wrong? There are a few things you can do in your excitement to make an impression that can sabotage your efforts. Here’s what they are and how to avoid them.

1. You don’t show them where it hurts
While reporters will want background on your company and products, you must effectively articulate the pain your target market is feeling. This is your chance to talk about your customers’ needs and demonstrate that there is a market for what you’re selling.

2. It’s all about me
Reporters will seek outside validation of market need and the importance and quality of your product from analysts and customers. One of biggest mistakes you can make is not having at least a couple of customers that will talk to reporters. You should also have pre-briefed analysts.

3. Who are you again?
If you work with a quality PR agency, they’ve given you background on the reporter and the publication, as well as articles the reporter has written. Be sure to read these documents thoroughly. A cringe worthy moment—when a CEO says to a reporter, “What’s your name?” “What do you cover?” “Tell me about your publication.” Translation, I have no idea who you are and why you’re important to me. Most of the time this is said out of nervousness. Whatever the reason, read the briefing materials your agency has supplied prior to the interview and demonstrate respect for the reporter’s work.

4. It’s a presentation, not a conversation
If you’re using slides, use them as a speaking guide and leave behind. They shouldn’t be text-heavy and you shouldn’t read them word for word. The best interviews are conversations. Make sure you ask questions and engage the reporter throughout. And if a reporter doesn’t want to go through a presentation, respect that and either answer questions or speak more informally (speaking points are a helpful tool to remember the key things you want to cover.)

5. You don’t deliver the goods fast enough
Nine times out of ten you’re there to convey news to a reporter. Get to it early. Reporters are busy and they don’t want a 15 minute lead-in to the real news.

Productive press and analyst relationships are critical to your company. A great deal of knowledge and preparation goes into making them successful. If you have a good PR agency or in-house team, they can make the process and the end result easier and worth the investment. Now you just need to be smart, passionate, engaged and prepared.

Julie Karbo, Founder and CEO