While journalists around the world have the same basic goal, how they prepare for a media interview with a company CEO varies widely depending upon what part of the world they’re in, according to study results from our teammates in the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN).
For example, when preparing to interview a CEO:
• North American journalists are most likely to go to previous media coverage first (82 percent) and the company website second (58 percent); while
• European reporters generally are most likely to go to the company’s annual report (64 percent) first and company press releases second (59 percent).
Yet even among European countries, journalistic research practices for CEO interview preparation vary widely. For example, according to the PRGN survey:
• In France, the first go-to research sources are the company press releases (100 percent) and the company website; while
• In Italy, previous media interviews are the first research source (89 percent); and
• In Spain, the company‘s website is the No.1 research source (83 percent).
Tips to help your CEO’s media interviews shine:
1) Research the journalist’s background and previous articles to get a better understanding of her/his tone and approach.
2) Review your company’s recent news releases, annual report and website articles to see what the reporter will likely review in advance, and share an overview of your findings with your CEO.
3) Review recent media coverage of your company to see what subjects and themes have been of the greatest media interest and brief your CEO on your findings.
4) Before the interview, provide the journalist with a few key custom-made documents that will provide background, facts and perspective that can help set the tone of the interview – but don’t assume the reporter will review them.
5) Provide the journalist with contact info for analysts, customers, peers, academics and other information sources that can help complete the picture.
6) Prior to the interview, ask the journalist who else they have talked to and what they already know about your company and CEO, and what the key areas of interest and key question areas are.
7) Work with a PR agency that has a local presence in the market in which the reporter works – to provide important local and cultural perspective.
8) Prepare your CEO for every media interview as if it is going to be a difficult/hostile one, including developing three key messages, reviewing bridging techniques to steer the interview and being ready to handle difficult “hot” questions.