A Reporter Asked for an Interview… What Do I Do Now?

A call from a reporter can induce a flood of anxiety. You may feel nervous you’ll say the wrong thing. You may be worried that you’ll be asked questions that you don’t know how to answer. It may ease your mind to know that in general, these are the things a reporter is looking for from you during an interview:

  • Open, honest & cooperative attitude
  • An interview time as soon as possible so they can meet their deadline
  • Relevant and accurate information
  • Your opinions or perspective (if your organization’s leadership has approved you as a spokesperson or subject expert)
  • Patience with their questions as you educate them for background in subject matter

Understanding a Reporter

It may also help if you know some things about a journalist’s career. As a former Executive Producer for a local TV news station, I’ve found these things to be true of most journalists.

  • Reporters who work for newspapers, television, radio or other traditional media are professionals, typically with degrees in Journalism or Mass Communication.
  • They are not likely to be experts in your field. But they are EXPECTED to become knowledgeable (often in just a few hours) about the topic they are covering on any given day.
  • Reporters rely on facts and commentary (from people like you) in order to do their jobs.
  • They may be getting pulled in many directions. Many reporters work in both traditional and online world as multimedia journalists. They not only report the news, but shoot video and/or gather the audio that accompanies their reports.
  • Reporters face tight deadlines. Typically have the tightest deadlines, as they’re usually trying to get their reports broadcast the same day they interview you.

If you are able to efficiently provide information about the topic they’re asking you about, odds are that you will have a good relationship with journalists.  In order to do their jobs each day, they need people like us to provide information and commentary relevant to their article’s topic in a timely manner. To read more about why it’s important to respond to reporters’ requests, check out my blog “Nothing is as spooky as silence.