Last week in interview between a C-level executive of a Fortune 500 and a reporter at a major daily newspaper, the reporter got on the phone and started out by saying, “Remind me what we are talking about today.”
Cringe. PR person summarizes subject to be discussed. Exec acts polite and pretends to roll with it. Reporters asks spontaneous stream of questions. Call ends. Exec yells at in-house communications manager. Client yells at InkHouse. All asking the same thing:
“How could THIS happen?”
THIS… after multiple conversations, emails and background materials exchanged between the reporter and the PR person.
But the truth is, THIS happens more and more everyday. As reporters are crunched for time, they often enter interviews without having done much, if any, prep. This is especially true when the PR person suggested the story topic and pitched the interview (versus the reporter coming to you with a story idea in mind). Obviously the subject interested the reporter in the first place or he wouldn’t have taken the interview. But as a PR professional, you can’t count on that meaning that the reporter will have everything in front of him or her for the interview.
Most PR people jump through hoops to make sure the reporter is vetted, is given all the background (usually in long form and in bullets to make it easier), and to confirm the time and subject matter of the interview.
Yet, despite all this preparation, you should be ready if a reporter seems unprepared. It is just the reality of today’s fast-paced news cycles and reporters who are often stretched too thin.
So how do you prepare for the unprepared reporter?
Remember it is the job of the spokesperson – along with the PR team – to tell your story in the interview. Don’t let an unprepared reporter keep you from missing the opportunity!