Blog 04 July 2022

The 12 Rules (and One Secret) of Media Interviews

There’s a secret about media interviews that the best media performers know instinctively. And every leader who has ever had a car-crash interview, doesn’t.

Ready? Here it is.

As you sit with the journalist sipping coffee, eating lunch or connecting over a video call, it looks and feels like a conversation, right? But it’s not.

It’s a transaction, disguised as a conversation.

Inside the transaction

You the leader want to boost your visibility – to draw investment, win customers, inspire employees or reassure regulators.

But the journalist has objectives too. It’s understanding those objectives – and subtly working with the journalist to achieve them – that’s the foundation of all successful interviews and the basis of the best coverage.

And every bad headline is born out of a failed transaction.

The 12 Rules

So how do you keep your side of the deal, and avoid making headlines for the wrong reasons?

We’ve harvested the decades of newsroom and interviewing experience in the Kekst CNC Impact team, to bring you The 12 Rules for Media Impact.

Take them to your next media encounter. Instead of falling flat, you’ll make an impact.

But remember, this is all top secret. Don’t tell anyone.


#1 speak to your audience.
Your audience isn’t the journalist, it’s their readers/viewers. What do they care about, worry about, get inspired by?

#2 know your message, nail your message.
You should have your core points clear in your mind – and be ready to deliver them in the first minutes of the interview.

#3 obsess about clarity.
Speak slowly, signpost key points, repeat key phrases and build complex concepts from the ground up. Clarity isn’t patronizing, it’s polite.

#4 bring a bit of yourself.
Don’t be afraid to let your own story and the story of the business overlap. You might be your own most powerful proof-point.

#5 prepare stories as well as numbers.
Invest time in prepping anecdotes that illustrate your ideas. And find excuses to use them.

#6 steer the conversation.
Guide the conversation onto the topics you’re there to talk about. Don’t wait for the ‘right’ question to get your point across. They might not ask it.


#7 assume knowledge.
Just because they’re nodding, it doesn’t mean they get it. Avoid jargon, unpack acronyms and put industry figures and history in context.

#8 try and say it all.
An interview isn’t the time for big, complex ideas. It’s about simple messages, conveyed with colour.

#9 linger in thorny areas.
The more time you spend talking about something, the greater the chance the coverage will focus on it. Push the conversation on.

#10 be negative.
You’re there to tell a positive story about your business. Don’t be drawn into being negative about others. And don’t argue.

#11 forget the Why.
Your audience needs to be reminded why it all matters. Don’t get so lost in the detail that you don’t explain the big picture.

#12 stick to a script.
Land key words and phrases but don’t learn lines. You’ll waste your energy trying to remember them and you’ll look like a corporate robot.

You can start a conversation with our Impact team at [email protected]

The 12 Rules (and One Secret) of Media Interviews

Download PDF