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The phone rings or an email arrives (or a Twitter direct message appears) from a journalist, asking for your opinion on a particular topic.  What should you do?

a) Panic

b) Answer their questions

c) ???

Journalists are half sleuth/half expert communicator:  they are paid to find out what is happening, and then make it both understandable and relevant to their audience.   They must do this every day, often on exceptionally tight deadlines, so if/when you are called by them, how should you respond?

Here are ten media relations tips that can improve your performance, help you avoid panic, and give the journalist what they need for their story:

  1. Return the call immediately – they are on deadline. The first source who responds will be used; the others will miss the boat.
  2. If you have the expertise to answer their questions, take the interview. If not, offer to refer them to someone who does.
  3. Brainstorm the most likely questions they may ask, along with a few point-form sound-bite answers for each.  Have more detailed answers ready, should they wish to probe.
  4. Ask if they are looking for any other sources for interviews: since you likely know your industry better than they do, this can help save them time.
  5. If there is enough time between the query and the interview, ask a colleague to role-play the interview.
  6. If it is a video interview, make sure that you are looking presentable.
  7. If it is a radio interview, make sure that there is some water nearby.  And take the interview with a landline telephone in a quiet room.
  8. Ask if they need any other resources for their story: pictures, or a picture of you.  If you have written a related short article recently, ask if they might be interested in seeing it for possible inclusion as a sidebar.
  9. Ask them to refer to you in the story in the manner of your choosing.  For example, depending on the nature of the media query, I am Randall Craig, Author of The Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business, or Randall Craig, a Toronto-based management consultant, or Randall Craig, President of 108 ideaspace.
  10. Never ask to review their work or to see it prior to publication: it is unprofessional (and insulting to them.)

This week’s action item:  When the media calls, don’t panic: they called you because they believe that you have something of relevance to say on the topic.  This week, find some time to rehearse (and record) a mock media interview with a colleague. Practice makes perfect!

Social Media Insight:  Most traditional journalists are exceptionally well-versed on Twitter; monitoring your Twitter feed for media questions is critically important. Most bloggers have the same pressures that traditional journalists have, with the additional pressure of also running their blogging business.  No matter who reaches out, your subject matter expertise, your responsiveness, and respect for their pressures go very far.

Caveat: The more sophisticated the organization is, the more likely a designated individual is their official spokesperson.  If you are not this person, then your role would be to forward the media enquiry onwards.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
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:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders



by Randall Craig on September 26, 2006

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Motivational, Time management

Tagged as: , ,

Recent statistics indicate that the average North American adult watches four hours of television each night. On top of this time, statistics show that home internet use is about an hour daily. This equates to 35 hours each week, which is an astonishingly high number when compared to the average working week of between 37 and 44 hours. Even if you spend only two hours on TV and Internet daily, you still have consumed 14 hours of time, or two entire working days!

What if we could reduce the time we spent on these activities by one hour daily? Instead of five hours on TV and Internet, spend four. Instead of three hours, reduce it to two – and so on. By cutting one hour daily, we could recapture seven hours each week.

How could this time be used? The Personal Balance Sheet provides some clues:

Community: Volunteer at a local not-for-profit. Not only does this give back to the community, it gives you skills that increase your value in the workplace.

Family: Spend the extra time with your family, doing activities that they want to do. This is the “life” part of work-life balance.

Intellectual: When was the last time you read a challenging non-fiction book, or took a course that really got you thinking. The brain is a muscle that needs training every bit as much as the rest of your body.

Physical: Go for a jog, walk, or cycle in your neighborhood. Early morning exercise invigorates you for the day; after-work exercise recharges you far more than sitting on a couch.

Spiritual: If you have questions that you would like answered, or were looking to get involved, there isn’t much downside to a spiritual time investment.

Financial: Spend some of that extra time making sure that your money is working properly for you; review your investments, insurance needs, education and retirement planning. At the very least, pick up a book to learn the questions to ask.

Career: Consider how some of this time can be used to move your career forward at an even faster rate. Or, for those that typically work on the weekend, consider how your extra seven hours can be allocated within the week – then take the weekend off.

Timeshifting doesn’t mean recording TV shows for later; it means trading activities that are time wasters for ones that move your career forward – and provide balance.

This week’s action item: Make a list of 3-5 activities that have remained on your to-do list for some time; the list above might spur some additional items. Then commit to reducing your daily TV or Internet time by one hour. When you have the urge to flop in front of the TV or “Check your email” yet again, pick an activity from your list and start on that instead.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)