Seven Steps to Prepare for a Media Interview

You just secured a highly-coveted media interview with an outlet that will position you in front of hundreds of potential clients – congratulations, that’s a big win!

In many ways, nailing the perfect interview is like preparing for a first date; sometimes our expectations are very different from the outcome. But remembering a few very simple pointers will prepare you to stay on message, get your point across and create a great rapport with the reporter.

From our experience, below is a list of seven essential tips in order to nail a media interview. If you’d like to really brush up on your interview skills, watch our webinar, which will take you through the process from securing the interview to mastering the follow-up.

Watch the webinar: Media Training Tips

Burst Your Bubble

Have you heard the term “news bubble?” It’s the concept that insular groups of people receive news from their bubble of pre-selected people with whom they share personal views and values.

How about the term “incestuous amplification?” This is when people in these insular groups repeat ideas and opinions to each other, they all agree with these ideas (or they’re not accepted by the group), and they ignore differing perspectives from “outsiders.”

Almost sounds like being in high school again, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this bubble effect and incestuous amplification are real and are currently being played out in politics and the media. We bring this up because if you are a professional service firm, a similar bubble effect could be in play that’s affecting your business. Here’s how:

Though perhaps unintentional, professionals become so vested in what they believe to be true about themselves, their practices and their brands, they create self-generated bubbles and incestuous amplification. They disseminate sales messages and marketing content based on what they believe their audience (end users) should hear, not necessarily on what the end users want or need. Professionals need to pay attention to these external voices as end user perceptions are what impact profits, competitive positioning and, ultimately, the firm’s overall success. So as you’re developing your marketing messaging, remember that perceptions are in the minds of your audience; so write to your audience’s needs, not your own.

In this instance, bursting your own bubble is a good thing!

Customer Satisfaction

You know how a bad customer service experience can put you in a really bad mood?  Well, I recently had two really pleasant experiences while shopping that got me thinking…

I had to return two items, one to Saks Fifth Avenue and one to Neiman Marcus—stores at which I rarely shop (seriously). I had purchased one item at Saks a little over a month earlier and I remembered at the time of the sale the cashier telling me they had a 30-day return policy.  On the evening of what happened to be the 32nd day later, I decided I wanted to return the item; but then thinking the store’s policy would be strict, I decided to not even bother trying to make the return.  A friend of mine in apparel retail told me that these days stores are much more flexible in their policies (online competition, etc.).  She said I should at least try.

I walked into Saks with the item, telling myself “Okay, you’re not going to get heated about this if they say, ‘No, we can’t take it back.’ You’re just going to say, ‘Thank you very much’ and walk out.” Braced for a “no go,” I walked in, showed the salesperson the item, said it had been a little over 30 days and handed her the receipt.  She didn’t even look at it; rather, she just took the item back and credited my card. She was very pleasant and I was out of there in about 10 minutes.

From there, I went to Neiman’s to return the other item.  I had ordered a couple of things online and I wanted to keep one and return one.  I walked over to a salesperson and explained what I wanted, thinking I’d be sent to the bowels of the store, but she took the item and receipt; she scanned whatever she had to scan, processed the refund and again, I was out of the store in 10 minutes.

I have to say that I was floored by both experiences, and how the world has changed. Even boutiques near me that for years allowed no returns or exchanges have been forced to do so. What also got me thinking was how competition raises the bar. What if one of the stores I went to had taken their item back but the other wouldn’t?  How would I have felt? I would have been a lot less inclined to purchase from that store again.

It also got me thinking about the whole issue of customer service as it applies to our business and that of our clients. Today, you have to hustle just to stay even and devote even more energy if you want to differentiate your business.  You certainly don’t want to be the one that elicits a response of, “I’m never working with them again!”

Fortunately for Saks and Neiman Marcus, I’m still a customer—and a happy one at that.

Build Connections and Move Prospect Relationships Along

Building relationships and connections takes time. Many lawyers, CPAs and other professionals are unrealistic about how quickly they can win new or additional business from prospects. It’s really a step-by-step process and every communication with a prospect or client is a touch point to move that relationship along.

Sally J. Schmidt, in her article, “Building Relationships with Contacts,” shares some creative and valuable examples of creating relationships and winning business:

• When you meet someone who works at a company that could be a good source of business, set up a Google alert on that person as well as the company. That way, when something pops up about them, you have a good reason (and opportunity) to follow up with them.

• When a financial institution client has only used you and your firm for a one-off project, offer to provide some free services; for example, in-house training for loan officers or CLE for the legal department. This helps more people in the organization understand what you do; they see your expertise and as a result, they get to know you better. All good reasons for giving you more business.

The Art of Working with the Media Involves Plenty of Work

Public relations professionals ardently wish that PR were more science than art so that it could be easily predicted. The truth is, though, that PR is more art than science, and sometimes art is frustrating.

I was prompted to this observation by a recent interaction: Berbay Marketing & PR pitched a story for a client who happens to be in a technology industry. We got some responses from reporters, including from the Wall Street Journal – exciting news for us and our client.

As often happens, the project evolved over several months, first with our offering of information, followed by answering more questions that helped the journalist decide it was worth pursuing an article. The reporter did interview our client and said he would be writing a story after he did more research. The anticipation built as the reporter called back a couple more times with more questions.

Our client provided all the information the reporter asked for, even supplying illustrations and photographs for the article. This is exactly how we want it to work. The reporter said the article would run in the next few days – no later than the weekend. We checked the paper every day, but no story.

Finally, publication! We all hungrily read the article. The reporter was thorough, having interviewed many people. In fact, he quoted a competitor of our client. The one thing the story did not include was a quote from our client, who was understandably disappointed.

So was I. Here’s what I told my client post-publication:

There are no guarantees when you work with the media. Reporters and their organizations are independent entities, and no matter how helpful you are to them, they will never promise publication of the information you so willingly provide. It’s simply part of the deal when working with journalists.

Still, although they won’t always admit it, reporters have feelings, and they appreciate working with reasonable people. The groundwork you and your PR agency do builds a relationship. Your expectation is to (usually) gain some notice for your investment in the relationship. The reporter acknowledges this and when he does stories in the future, he will call you because you are a great resource. You are in the Rolodex.

Next time a reporter calls, you will get an opportunity to tell your story and convey your message. You can’t control how it will be used – whether it will be used at all – or what the headline says. Once you position yourself as a person of knowledge and expertise, however, you are more likely than not to be quoted in influential media – and to be happy with the result.

Like most artistic endeavors, it’s worth pursuing despite the challenges and the occasional heartache.

It’s All in the Details – Technical Details, That Is.

How many times have you thought you were going to hear a presentation, then couldn’t? The microphone isn’t working, the slides don’t play, etc.

The technology aspect of making a presentation is something many of us don’t think enough about before we stand behind the podium. Almost everyone puts time into their PowerPoint, and they will practice in front of family or a mirror to get their cadence and pronunciation right. Sometimes we take the time to find out who will be in the audience in order to tailor our talk to them.

However, no matter how good your talk is, it won’t help anybody if they can’t hear you.

Deborah Shames and David Booth of the communication training company Eloqui have coached some of the biggest names when it comes to giving effective talks. The latest post from their weekly newsletter reminds us about some of the most important, but overlooked, aspects of giving a presentation.

By the way, Deborah gave one of the keynotes at the recent Los Angeles Business Journal Women’s Summit.  And, Eloqui has been sending out a tip of the week, which they write themselves, for 12 years.


A recent women’s conference in Los Angeles provided many examples of microphone mishaps. One panelist wore a dress with no belt. There was no place for her to clip the lavaliere or the battery pack. She had to hold both during her entire presentation. She was not alone.

Another speaker lost her frequency and was given a handheld microphone. But without training, she spoke too loudly, causing distortion. When she turned away from the mic, the audience couldn’t hear her at all! She needed to aim the mic at her chin, about 3″ away, then turn at the waist whenever she spoke while keeping the mic in place.

And yet another speaker didn’t dress her cable correctly, causing her blouse to ride up and not lie smoothly under her jacket.

If you speak in public, you need to master this technology. Always wear a shirt or blouse that can hold the weight of the mic and accommodate a clip for the lavaliere. A jacket with a lapel will also do. Don’t wear hanging necklaces, which can create a sound nightmare.

Dress the mic cable so it doesn’t show or make clothing hike up… Turn off power when you go to the bathroom, unless you want to entertain the tech crew… And rehearse with the mic, even a few sentences, so you can best monitor your volume on stage.

Join the conversation at

Write Your Next Powerpoint Without Writing a Word. See How

One of the most “talked” about sessions at the 2016 Legal Marketing Conference was “TED Talks for Lawyers.”  The format for TED Talks and TED techniques has become the norm for what now constitutes successful presentations.

One TED technique relates to the use of verbiage in PowerPoints. Gone are the days of text-heavy PowerPoint slides. These days, to break through the clutter and garner audience interest, presenters now use powerful visuals to convey their ideas.  If you find it too difficult to go “cold turkey,” using one or two words to accompany each visual is acceptable as long as they are descriptive and useful in telling your story.

Easy to understand charts, graphs, cartoons and unusual visuals are always effective, and no matter how technical the subject matter, succinct presentations interspersed with something personal (i.e. childhood photos, etc.) are viewed as welcome surprises that will keep audiences paying attention.

When visuals are evocative, interesting or simply unusual, and are accompanied by a verbal presentation that pulls your story together, the power of your presentation can not only lead to more business but to providing a boost toward making you and your firm more memorable.

Want More People to Actually Read Your E-Newsletter? Here Are Some Easy Ideas

Many e-newsletters talk about firm members’ promotions, they brag about new client relationships, new deals…they’re a litany of “me, me, me all the way home.”

To get your clients and prospective clients to read your e-newsletter and actually look forward to receiving it, you need to write about what’s of value to THEM.  Q&As are actually quite effective in creating value as you can establish a scenario that many can relate to and then answer the issue presented with informative, tangible and actionable information.

When writing articles, pick subject matter your audience can relate to and that will interest them.  Keep the article short and sweet and end it with a call to action such as “to learn more” or “ask us how” and refer them to an email address or phone number of an associate  with whom they can receive more information.  This not only demonstrates your expertise and the added value you provide, it humanizes your firm and makes it more approachable which is always good in developing client relationships.

Lastly, name your e-newsletter so that it will always appear in the subject line of your email.  As your audience starts looking forward to receiving it, seeing the name will help differentiate your e-newsletter from the clutter of all the other emails in their in-box.

Case Studies Are an Easy Way to Bring in New Business If You Write Them Correctly

The first thing to understand about case studies is what they are, and what they should not be.  Case studies are a viable and effective way to persuade and entice prospects to hire you and your firm.  They should not be used to pat yourself on the back for the great work you’ve done or to brag about the top-notch clients you have in your database.

The real objective in writing a case study should be to demonstrate how you and your firm handled a specific challenge so that prospects, in relating to the challenge you describe, can see the value you brought to solving the issue. They identify with the challenge, see how you resolved it and then internalize that you and your firm would be of great help in meeting their challenges and needs.

A well-written case study typically has four sections:

  • The name of the client or a description of the client (industry, size of company, client base, etc.)
  • An overview of the challenge you and your firm were asked to resolve
  • A description of the work you and your firm performed to resolve the challenge
  • Details of the results you achieved

If you follow this format, it will make it easy for prospective clients to understand the types of work you and your firm undertake and the results you achieve on behalf of your clients.  As prospects relate to what they read, they can easily see why you and your firm would be a good fit for their needs.

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