Help – I said yes to a radio interview

2 June 2010 By Northern Lights

Help – I said yes to a radio interview image

<BBC-York-logoIn the world of PR, we are setting up radio interviews for our clients several times a week.  It’s easy.  You’ve got a good story, sell it to the radio station and fix the date for the interview.

It’s like falling off a log.  Until it’s you who has to do the interview!

A couple of weeks ago BBC Radio York invited me to review the newspapers on their breakfast show.  My heart sank.  I’ve done a number of radio interviews over the years and it never gets any easier.  But there is nothing like reminding yourself about what we put our clients through, so I said yes.  Thank you.

Now it’s the evening before and I wish I didn’t have to do this.  The nerves have started.

But I’m going through all the tips we give to our clients, and it’s helping to focus.  So what can you do if you are invited to do a radio interview?


1. Preparation


Find out as much as you can about the programme you are going on.  What questions do they want to ask you?  You will rarely be told the exact questions but the researcher is usually happy to discuss the broad areas of interest.  Check if it’s live or recorded; whether you will be in the studio or on the phone (‘down the line’); and whether there will be other guests in a studio debate.

Radio York were really helpful and outlined a timetable

6.45am                Arrive and go through the papers, highlight six stories

7.25am                Talk through three stories

7.55am                Chat about my background, what we do, my interests, how I unwind (that’s an interesting concept!), anything unusual

8.25am                Three more stories

8.55am                Comment on any stories that have been interesting on the programme

Make sure the programme has accurate information about you.  I’ve emailed over a biography with my name, title and company name as well as the background information I want covered in the interview.  Thinking about it, I probably sent more than was needed and should have sent a pithier summary.


2. What do you want out of the interview?


An interview is always a two-way process.  You need to think through what the programme wants and deliver for that.   TV and radio want the human interest for their programme, not a lecture on business or PR.

What do I want?   I want to demonstrate our passion for business and our specialist expertise in social media, low carbon technologies, helping universities to work with businesses and our grass roots work in communities.

I’m going to try and bring out one or two of these points through the stories I choose.  I’ve checked whether the FT is included in the papers – it isn’t but I can bring a copy.  And whether we will have the Yorkshire Post – I can look for something on the business pages – and  This gives a message about our business focus but hopefully still fits with what BBC York wants.

But in my effort to cover the points I want, I will have to make sure I don’t become robotic and boring.  I still have to deliver the human interest that the radio programme is looking for.


3. Your three key points


 Jot down on the back of a card, three key points that you want to make in the interview.  Don’t try for more or you will end up not covering any.

Visualise these points, talk them through – whatever helps you to memorise them.  Take the card with you.

Try and find an opportunity to bring your points into the interview, but without being a politician where you just make the points you want with little reference to the question!


4. Listen and learn

This is probably the worst bit of all.  Try and listen to a recording of the interview after.  With a colleague if possible.  Be objective and analyse how you did – and make a few notes to improve for the next time.

Deep breath.  Now for a sleepless night.  One day I’ll say no to these interviews.

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Written by Northern Lights