Pleasantly Persistent PR Blog
10 Tips for Giving a
Great Media Interview
May 15, 2020
You've scored a media interview to discuss your book and couldn't be more excited. But the spot is short. You have little time to make a good impression. You need media interview tips to make the most of your interview and generate interest in your book.

I live and breathe media interviews - setting them up for clients, watching them, critiquing them, and coaching clients on best practices. Below are my 10 tips for giving a great media interview so you rock your next media spot like a star.
#1 Develop an Elevator Pitch
As the name suggests, an elevator pitch is a short description about yourself and your book that you could give during a brief elevator ride. It's two or three sentences and is informative and enticing. Not only a hot tip for media interviews, a good elevator pitch can be used anytime your book comes up during everyday conversation.
#2 Know the Audience
Each TV, radio or podcast program will have its own demographics. Style your interview towards the demographic so your message resonates with the audience. You can ask the show's producer for the demographics and if there are any particulars to keep in mind about the audience. For example, if you're on a local TV news program that attracts viewers 50 years and up, references to contemporary pop stars wouldn't be appropriate, but mentions about local issues like government, schools or history would be.

#3 Make a List of Potential Questions
Create a list of potential questions about your book. Prepare to talk about the book's plot and characters, potential intersections with current events or history, and your writing process. Don't prepare complete answers, just 3-4 talking points. This way your answers sound natural and not canned.
#4 Listen to the Questions Carefully
Adrenaline will be pumping during your interview. It's easy to feel anxious and you may be tempted to interrupt the host. Please don't. This can come across as rude. You also may not hear the question properly and then not provide a good answer.

Be sure to listen to each question carefully and let the host finish their thought. Try affirming questions before you answer them. Always answer the question directly, even if it is not the best question or is asked in a testing or combative way. Try saying, "I see what you mean.." or, "I understand your point of view…" and then answer the question.
#5 Follow the Traffic Light Rule
Consider an interview a collection of sound bites, short and memorable phrases and anecdotes that last about 30 seconds. To ensure your response to each question is an appropriate length, follow the traffic light rule. You're in the green zone for the first 20 seconds. You're in the yellow zone for the next 20 seconds. At the 40 second zone, it's red and you should have stopped. Going on 40 seconds or longer will make you sound long-winded. In some instances, it may be okay to speak for longer than 40 seconds, but this is an exception and not a rule.

One of the biggest tips for giving a good media interview is thinking of it like a verbal ping pong match between you and the interviewer; there should be a lot of back and forth.
One of the biggest tips for giving a good media interview is thinking of it as a verbal ping pong match;
there should be a lot of back and forth between you and the interviewer.
#6 Be Informative, Interesting or Inspiring
Interviews are about connecting with an audience. The host and producer of the show want you to be informative, interesting or inspiring - bonus to guests who do all three. At the end of the day, the hosts and producers don't care too much about the product you are plugging (your book); they care about the quality of the content on their show and how the audience responds to it.
#7 Bring Them Back to Your Book
Be sure to bring the topic back to your book once in a while, if it veers away. Think of this as a soft-sell. Too aggressive with the book mentions and it will be a turn-off. Too lackadaisical and you won't see an uptick in book sales. Mention the book title and offer relevant details that have the audience hungry for more.
#8 Be Authentic and Upbeat
You can't expect anyone else to be excited about your book if you aren't. Be upbeat and energetic. Smile, even if you aren't on TV. The smile will come through in your voice. A low-energy, disengaged guest is the worst thing for an interviewer and show producer. But then again, don't go overboard with the enthusiasm. A great media interview tip, and arguably for life in general, is to just be your best upbeat self.

#9 Remember, You're Not the Star
You've been booked on the show, so you're the star, right? Nope, sorry. The audience and host are the stars. You're there to give the audience what they want - entertainment and information - and to give the host what they want - an audience that stays tuned in. You can do this by being interesting, engaging, upbeat, authentic and keeping your answers short and sweet.
#10 Keep Clothes Comfortable and Conservative
If you have a TV interview, you want to look the part of a serious and approachable author. Wear solid, neutral colors, like grays, blues or beiges. Media tips and tricks when it comes to clothing is staying away from loud colors or patterns of any kind.

Make sure your clothes fit well and are comfortable. The camera exacerbates the appearance of thick or tight-fitting clothes, or bunched material like ruching. Men should pay special attention to the fit of the jacket, having the jacket unbuttoned when seated, and buttoned when standing. Women should refrain from any tight, revealing clothes, paying special attention to how a skirt or dress lays when seated (hemlines come up when sitting).

As for jewerly, think simple designs and matte finishes, avoiding big or shiny pieces. Studio lighting reflects intensely off shiny objects, creating a distracting glare.
By learning how to give a good media interview, you'll be more confident going into it. You'll also be that much more likely to capture new readers of the book you worked so hard to write.
Feel free to contact me
Julia Brown
Book publicist
Phone: +1 619-888-7956
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