Where Do Journalists Go to Research Your CEO Before a Media Interview?

Most journalists around the globe have the same basic goal – to get the story. But HOW and WHERE they do research on the CEO prior to an interview varies widely, especially depending upon what part of the world they’re working in, according to our partners in the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN –

A PRGN survey of business journalists throughout Europe and North America indicated that, when preparing to interview a CEO:

European journalists are most likely to go to the company’s annual report (64 percent) first and company press releases second (59 percent); while
North American reporters are generally most likely seek out previous media coverage first (82 percent) and the company’s website second (58 percent).

And among European countries, research practices by reporters for CEO interviews can be very different based on geography and culture. For example, the PRGN survey indicated:

• In Spain, the company‘s website is the No.1 research source (83 percent) for reporters;
• In Italy, previous media interviews are the first research source (89 percent); and
• In France, the first research sources for journalists are the company’s news releases (100 percent) and the company website.

So what does all of this mean to you? If you want to optimize your CEO’s media interviews, you should:

1) Research the journalist’s previous articles and background to better understand her/his approach, tone and style.

2) Review your company’s most recent website articles, news releases and annual report to see what the reporter will likely be viewing, and share an overview of your key findings in advance with your CEO.

3) Study recent news coverage of your company to see what topics, themes and issues have generated the most media interest, and brief your CEO on these findings.

4) Prior to the interview, take the extra time to provide the journalist with a small set of a few key custom-created documents that will provide facts, background and perspective that can help set the stage for the interview – but don’t assume the reporter will review it.

5) Provide the journalist with contact info for customers, analysts, peers, academics and other informed sources that can help provide a well-rounded and positive picture.

6) Ask the journalist what they already know about your company and CEO, and whom else they have talked to, and try to get a handle on their key question areas and interests.

7) Consider working with a PR agency that has a local presence in the market in which the reporter works – to provide important local and cultural perspective. (PRGN has offices in 50 key markets around the world.)

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.

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