Check first!

Never … ever… go to a media interview without checking with the public affairs people in your organization.

Ask the experts what journalists may be at the event or ask for details about the journalist lined up to talk with you. Ask the experts what you should be talking about and, equally important, what you should not be discussing with media.

Discuss the timing of the interview or event. For instance, you may be making a speech that might be covered by media. If this takes place in the morning, you might get air time that same day,even within the hour if your talk contains important information or announcements. If you speak in late afternoon or in the evening, it is likely you won’t make the news that day and may end up on breakfast television. Fridays are the worst day to make news that you want to go public (but the best time to get out news you want to be low-keyed.)

Why are you talking to or in front of media at all? What do you want to accomplish via the media?

Public affairs experts can guide you through the planning process and suggest things you want to discuss with the public.  They should be able to warn you about especially cantankerous journalists or caution you not to alienate journalists whom they see as fair.

Your PR professionals also should help you avoid missteps or ‘setups’ by media even though such trickery is really rare among the media. There are various examples such as the well-known wildlife advocate who was invited to an interview only to be asked on national TV why his own television show used cruelty to get alarming video of animals in the wild. This man tore off his mic and dashed out of the scene – hardly upholding his reputation. If he had been prepared for this question, he could have turned it on its head with the help of crisis-savvy public affairs folk.