Bianchi PR Shares PRGN Survey Results: American CEOs Preparing to be Interviewed by the Media Should Have an Online Presence

Posted Mar. 12th 2015

CEOs can best prepare for interviews by knowing how journalists prepare themselves while making sure their online personas are up-to-date

Troy, Mich., March 12, 2015 — Preparing to be interviewed by a North American journalist in the United States or Canada? While the top source of interview preparation material is still previous media coverage, today’s journalists are getting the jump on their executive interviewees by studying their social media profiles, according to research shared by Bianchi Public Relations, Inc.

In a survey of 50 journalists around North America, conducted by the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), 80 percent will browse an executive’s LinkedIn profile before an interview, followed closely by their Twitter and Facebook pages.

The survey results also showed that executives’ knowledge of their company and market is more important in an interview than their personality, although not by much. Arrogant behavior was reported as the biggest turn-off to a journalist, followed by failing to answer material or sensitive questions and attempting to control the final content of the article.

“One of the biggest dangers facing CEOs who engage in media relations is failing to take the time to prepare for the interview,” said Aaron Blank, CEO/president of The Fearey Group and the member of PRGN conducting the survey. “Ignorance can be costly to a CEO or his/her company. Our survey suggests a number of tips to help top executives prepare for media interaction.”

“The survey results help Bianchi PR and its PRGN partners around the world to better serve our North American-based clients in other markets, as well as to help our overseas-based clients in their North American PR efforts,” said James A. Bianchi, Bianchi PR president. “Efforts like this survey show the benefit of working with PRGN, which combines a global reach and local expertise for maximum effectiveness.”

Survey finding highlights include:

  • LinkedIn and Twitter are the top social media tools for journalists preparing for interviews. Eighty percent of journalists say they view an executive’s LinkedIn profile before an interview. Twitter and Facebook came in second and third with 70 percent and 64 percent respectively.
  • Past media coverage is the top source of interview preparation by journalists. Eighty two percent of those surveyed say they use past media coverage as their primary preparation tool. That was followed by a company’s website (58 percent) and their annual reports and press releases (both at 56 percent).
  • During an interview, journalists expect a CEO to demonstrate: outstanding knowledge of the company and market (94 percent), an engaging personality (80 percent) and a strong track record of performance (74 percent).
  • The biggest interview turn-offs for journalists are: arrogant behavior (70 percent), failing to answer material or sensitive questions (66 percent) and indicating what should and should not appear in the article (62 percent).

Preparing for an interview

Based on the survey results, PRGN recommends that CEOs preparing for their next North American media interviews should:

  • Get their LinkedIn in order. Executives need to make sure their profile represents the company and its brand.
  • Obtain favorable media coverage. Become a thought leader in your industry. Find opportunities to write bylines for publications and offer yourself as a spokesperson to the media.
  • Schedule the interview at the right location. Since most journalists prefer to meet at the executive’s office, make sure your office represents your organization well—and make sure it is clean and free of company business plans.
  • Check their attitude at the door. We all have bad days, but CEOs should avoid appearing arrogant or impatient with a journalist and their questions.
  • Have an answer for the sensitive questions. CEOs and their PR teams should anticipate and be prepared to answer sensitive or difficult questions and be ready to bridge to their key points.

European survey differences

This North American survey follows up a similar survey of more than 150 European journalists that was conducted in spring of 2014. Highlights from the European survey found differences in approach between continents. The biggest differences include:

  • European journalists prefer annual reports to prepare. Sixty four percent of journalists surveyed say they use a company’s annual report to prepare for an interview.
  • European journalists may be more accommodating with article reviews. Forty one percent of journalists said they always allow the CEO or PR firm to review quotes before publication. Twenty one percent allowed full article reviews in advance, depending on their relationship with the CEO or PR firm.
  • Practices differed from country to country. Journalists in the U.K., Ireland, Spain, Italy and Portugal were less willing to give pre-publication review. German and Italian journalists consider a CEO’s private life when forming an impression of him or her. Swiss journalists heavily rely on previous media coverage to drive a story.

“The American and European PRGN surveys show there are differences in the cultures of journalism and in how editors handle interviews. As a global network, PRGN can help CEOs communicate in an appropriate way in all relevant markets around the globe,” said Michael Diegelmann, CEO of Cometis AG in Wiesbaden, Germany.

About PRGN

The Public Relations Global Network ( is one of the world’s top four international public relations networks. Nearly 50 independently owned and operated PR firms in 80 markets belong to the invitation-only network. Collectively, PRGN firms have revenue in excess of $110 million, employ more than 900, and operate 65 offices around the globe.

About Bianchi PR

With special expertise in automotive supplier PR and business-to-business PR, Bianchi PR was founded in 1992 and is ranked in the top five independent PR agencies based in Michigan, according to PRWeek’s 2014 ranking of public relations firms.

The Detroit-based member of PRGN, Bianchi PR has represented clients including the automotive aftermarket, commercial vehicle, association, consulting, design, engineering, industrial, business law, manufacturing, professional services and technology sectors. For more information, visit or call 248-269-1122.

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Jim Bianchi