07 June 2007

Handling a friendly radio interview

Q. we put out a media release and a radio station wants to do an interview. What should I say, and how should I prepare? They have sent a list of likely questions, and some of them are tricky.

A. Great! This is what you wanted: a chance to tell your story in person.

1. Start with your corporate material. On the media release how did you summarise the organisation or the programme? What does your website say? Do you have standardised (boilerplate) descriptions?

Be able to explain very briefly (more briefly than in the boilerplate) what your organisation does and how it works with key partners e.g. other organisations or the local community.

2. Determine the three main points you want to convey, and frame all of your answers in terms of one or more of these points. When you come away from the interview you should be comfortable, knowing that you successfully delivered your messages (as a last resort, work them into an opening or final statement).

3. Research your audience. What is the radio station usually talking about? What would the listeners want to know, or what do you want them to do (e.g. become volunteers or activists? Is there a way for them to get involved?).

4. Make it tangible and talk about the positive benefits. Think through the local issues and how they relate to your organisational goals and mission, e.g. how would the local populace (listeners to the radio station) benefit from getting involved with your organisation? What would be the benefits of them becoming activists or volunteers (how would that improve their lives and that of the community?).

5. Beware of getting drawn too far from your purpose or comfort zone, e.g. being invited to critique everything that ails the country or the community, or discussing news items removed from your organisation or programme. Avoid directly challenging government policy. Much of that discussion will simply be negative. Naturally you should acknowledge the challenges (which your organisation is there to address), but also note that there are great opportunities to improve people's lives and build communities and facilities. We are part of the solution!

Lastly, let your colleagues know if you need specific help. This is an important opportunity and should be supported throughout your organisation.