The press release for our big grant came out today. I have so far been interviewed by the student paper, and the local NPR station, and I have already learned some things about what not to do in interviews with friendly reporters. Some tips are below that I’ll add to over the day, and please share some of your thoughts in the comments.
- We wrote some talking points to share with all the main grant members who were more involved in different parts, and may be less prepared about others. Don’t forget to read them carefully, annotate them, and add to them BEFORE your press release goes out. Ack.
- Radio people want short snippets of you talking that they can play in their story. Don’t rely on your spur-of-the-moment brilliance and practice at professing to help you through the interview – instead, think of some snippets beforehand! And write them down! And put them, written down, next to your phone!
- Don’t be afraid to ask the reporter/interviewer to call you back in 30 minutes. Then don’t fritter that time away doing other stuff or agonizing about what you’re going to say or visualizing yourself screwing up the interview. Instead, consider spending the time writing down those short snippets. And visualizing how eloquent you are.
- Don’t avoid calling your news office and asking if they have any suggestions on how to talk with the media. And then don’t completely forget what they tell you.
- Don’t think that no press will call you. I guess this is the biggie. I really thought people would have other things to report on. I mean, I’m glad they’re interested, but my imposter syndrome got in the way – “No one could possibly be interested in me and my work, could they?” Yes, darn it, they could, and are! So prepare!
- Don’t say “blah blah blah” at all, ever, even in a not very important part of the interview, when you can say “etcetera.” Because then you’ll imagine headlines all day that say something like “Assistant professor Alice Pawley disparaged the work of colleagues by saying “blah blah blah”".
Okay, I admit it, really I’m writing this post to bring some humor into my day, lest I spend it reliving my agonizingly painful radio interview. Can I have a do-over?
Updated at 6:34: I heard the first radio spot just after the 6 pm news. My husband verifies I did not sound stupid, so that’s good to hear. Two more are still to come.