So, your small business landed a major press opportunity on a huge media outlet and could not be more excited for the feature and the added exposure it will provide your company. However, instead of conducting the interview face-to-face or via email, the reporter wants to chat with you over the phone. Maybe you’re happy to hold a lengthy discussion or dread phone conversations to the point where you find yourself imagining all of the ways you might accidentally flub the experience.
Take a deep breath and focus on all of the positives to come instead of dwelling on what could go wrong—this is your time to shine!
The best way to ensure conducing an insightful and thoughtful interview that reflects highly on you and your small biz is to prep for it. Follow these key rules of thumb to ensure your phone interview is a success from the moment you answer the phone to after hanging up.
1. Set a hard stop.
Worried that the interview might run long? Let the reporter know that you have a hard stop that can be anywhere between 20 minutes to 45 minutes. These should be fairly easy to accommodate for both parties, as many reporters are understanding that small business owners have busy schedules.
2. Ask about the topic ahead of time.
What will you be the focus of discussion? If possible, ask to know more about the topic or see the questions that will be asked ahead of time. This will help you better prep your own answers and messaging to make sure it aligns with your brand.
3. Understand how you’ll answer these questions.
When you’re speaking on the phone especially, it’s important to make a first impression that is clear and articulate to the reporter. Here are a few basic etiquette tips to follow to ensure a smooth conversation.
- Know exactly what message you want to get across about your brand. Are you expanding? Offering new services or products? Establishing partnerships? Make sure you have a key message in place along with a few main points to back it up. If you get asked a question that you weren’t anticipating, divert back to your message after briefly answering the question.
- Bring along statistics to further back up your commentary, along with a general understanding of what has been trending in the news surrounding your industry. These stats can be based off of internal data your business has acquired or general information within your field and will ultimately help to position you as a credible expert.
- Listen thoughtfully and pause before responding. It’s not required that you immediately reply the moment each question is asked! Couple longer responses with shorter ones to ensure you have a healthy mix of sound bites included in the interview.
4. Be yourself, but don’t sell yourself.
This interview is not your sales pitch to get everyone to invest in your offerings or a script where you can talk about how awesome you are. Rather, it’s an opportunity to get to know more about your expertise within this particular industry.
So, be honest and genuine. Share personal anecdotes through storytelling about the overall progression of your business, the lessons you learned along the way, and where you hope to see it move forward.
5. Make sure your reception is good.
This one is kind of a one-brainer, but if there’s ever a time for someone’s cell phone reception to drop out, it’s bound to happen during an important interview. Make sure you’re in a distraction-free area where you can take the call and conduct it with ease.
6. Say thank you afterwards!
After the interview has wrapped up, thank the reporter for taking the time to speak with you and keep in touch on when the piece may be slated to run. Once the piece runs, make sure to share it via social media and to tag the outlet and reporter when you do to help give them a little extra exposure as well.