How North American Journalists Prepare for CEO Interviews

Not all journalists are the same, but a recent survey offers some new insights on how some North American journalists prepare for, and conduct, an interview with a corporate CEO.

As a communications professional, knowing a journalist’s preparations and preferences can help you better prep your CEO for the best possible interview outcome.
Key findings of the survey, conducted by members of the Public Relations Global Network ( found that:

• Many North American journalists rely on previous media coverage as the top source of information in preparing for an interview (82 percent), followed by the company website (58 percent) and press releases and annual reports (56 percent each).
• Reporters often turn to social media channels to research a CEO’s background. When they do, they typically turn to LinkedIn (80 percent), Twitter (70 percent) and Facebook (64 percent) profiles to get a better sense of the CEO’s background and personality.
• Journalists expect the CEO to demonstrate outstanding knowledge of their company and market (94 percent), have an engaging personality (80 percent) and a strong performance track record (74 percent).
• Not surprisingly, many reporters are put off by arrogant behavior (70 percent), a CEO’s failure to answer material or sensitive questions (66 percent) and a CEO trying to dictate to the reporter what should and should not be included in the article.

Based on the findings, PRGN recommends that CEOS who are preparing for this next media interview with a North American journalist should:
• Update their personal LinkedIn profile to make sure it is accurate and positively represents their company and brands;
• Work to secure favorable media coverage in credible media, such as taking advantage of opportunities to contribute bylines or thought leadership pieces, and share that media coverage on their website and social media channels;
• Be ready to fulfill the reporter’s expectations in terms of company and market knowledge, an engaging personality and proof points regarding performance;
• Have answers for , explanations why certain questions cannot be answered, and alternate information that offers insight to help meet the reporter’s needs without revealing confidential information.

Our next post will highlight the differences between European and North American journalists in their approaches to CEO interviews. Stay tuned …

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