CEO Media Interview Mistake #3 – Not Knowing What Criteria Journalists Use to Evaluate CEOs

Fact: Educational Background is Least Important of Top 10 Factors

Fewer than one in 100 journalists around the world surveyed by the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) ranked education one of the top three factors they considered when evaluating a CEO around a media interview.

The top three criteria that reporters said they use to vet CEOs for an interview were:

  • Knowledge of the CEO’s industry sector (85 percent),
  • The CEO’s performance / track record at the company (53 percent), and
  • The CEO’s previous work history (45 percent).

Also rated as important by the 113 journalists surveyed by PRGN were:

  • Previous media coverage (41 percent),
  • The CEO’s personality (40 percent), and
  • Third party opinions from peers, colleagues and analysts (14 percent).

So, based on this data, to help your CEO prepare for the best possible media interview outcome, you should:

  • Make sure your CEO understands that they need to demonstrate their knowledge of your company’s industry. They should set the stage by talking about the major trends, issues, competitors and big picture forecast, etc. – not just your company.
  • You should provide background on your CEO’s track record and performance prior to the interview. Put the CEOs’ performance in perspective. Set the stage of what the company’s challenges were before they took office, how they addressed key issues, major initiatives and accomplishments to date, and identify future strategic direction.
  • Provide a recap of your CEO’s work history and major successes for the period before they became CEO. These can help you to see what the usual tone, topics and takeaways from such interviews are. These insights can be important in helping your CEO prepare for an interview … as well as in selecting what materials to provide the journalist in advance.
  • Provide (in advance) the reporter with the names and contact info for respected analysts, peers and colleagues who can provide third-party endorsements of your CEO. If you don’t help the reporter with these, you run the risk that they will use a Google search to find other third-party sources who may offer a biased or negative viewpoint of your CEO.

Also, help your CEO prepare by avoiding the situations that tend to irk reporters most, such as:

  • Being late, re-scheduling or cancelling the media interview,
  • Showing an impatient, condescending or flippant attitude,
  • Being unprepared for the interview topic, and
  • Overusing acronyms, jargon or overly technical language.

One last point: Another common turn-off for reporters is a CEO’s refusal to answer key questions that are crucial. If you expect some difficult questions around a confidential subject, help your CEO prepare some kind of answer – before the interview – that doesn’t breech confidentiality but does offer the reporter some perspective they can use.

The PRGN journalist study surveyed more than 110 journalists from around the world to get insight on how media professionals prepare for and conduct interviews with CEOs, as well as to understand how their reporting duties and needs are changing. Click HERE for more info.

Stay tuned for blog post on CEO media interview mistakes #4. See the posts on CEO media interview mistake #1: and mistake #2:  

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