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What You Didn’t Learn in Class: How to Prep Clients For an Interview

By Arthur Solomon for PRNews

Public relations agencies have many tools to prepare a client for an interview. But perhaps the most important one is not in any text book or training manual, and that is, “common sense.”

Preparing a Client

Below are some “common sense” lessons you probably never learned in PR classes that should be used when preparing a client for an interview.

  • No matter how difficult an interview is, the client must avoid getting into a shouting match with a reporter.
  • The interview is never over, even if a TV reporter signals it is, or a print reporter turns off the tape recorder and puts away the notebook. Often after an interview, a reporter might call the interviewee and say there are a few more questions. That’s part of the acceptable interview process. But what can trip up a client is when months after the original interview, another reporter calls about the same subject with additional questions that are based on the initial interview.
  • Anything you say after the formal interview is concluded can be used. Certain reporters might ask an unexpected “by the way” question after the interview. Clients should reply: “I’ll get back to you on that.” And the client should do so after deciding on an answer.
  • There is no such thing as an “off-the-record” conversation. Not all reporters honor this. Also, just because a client says, “This is off the record” doesn’t mean the reporter agrees. Expect that everything you say will be used.
  • Most reporters are friendly. But they have a job to do. Remember that.
  • Never say “no comment” to a question. Say, “I’ll check into that and get back to you.” And make certain the client does, through email, so no surprising follow-up questions will be asked.
  • Knowing the interviewer doesn’t mean only softball questions will be asked. The reporter’s bosses are watching.

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Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko:

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