7 tips to help partners of professional services firms become expert media commentators

7 tips to help partners of professional services firms become expert media commentators

Partners of professional services firms can hugely increase awareness of their expertise, and build their practice, by giving great media interviews, both print and broadcast. Even better, journalists tend to come back to the same professional services commentators time and time again, so long as the partner concerned provides expert, colourful, media-friendly material.

So how can partners give great interviews that make journalists want to come back for more? Here’s a 7-step guide:

  1. Communicate two or three simple key points. Partners are world experts in their chosen fields, with a massive amount of knowledge that could be shared. Yet in an interview – whether a 20-minute print interview or a three-minute video/broadcast interview – they need to pick and choose just two or three simple points to make. That takes a lot of thought, and preparation is therefore vital.
  1. Say something new and different. There is no point giving an interview if you’re just going to give the journalist exactly the same material and viewpoint that your competitors down the road are giving. Say something different and surprising – something that the journalist will only get from you. Otherwise, why should the journalist quote you in the final article or broadcast instead of your competitor?
  1. Use expressive language. Partners of professional firms are often measured in their language and cautious in their opinions. Yet journalists want the reverse. They’ll love it if you are expressive and opinionated. So, be prepared to stick your neck out a bit. If something can be legitimately described as the holy grail of your industry, then call it exactly that, instead of just saying “this is a significant step forward”.
  1. Use colourful mind pictures and analogies. The world’s best communicators paint mind pictures for their audience, often in the form of analogies. So, for example, instead of just describing a new regulation as “a threat to small business”, you can bring it to life by describing it as “a tidal wave that’s about to hit, and if small businesses don’t have life boats at the ready, many of them will get swamped”. Such mind pictures are often the difference between a good and a great interview.
  1. Don’t look too grey. Why do TV reporters love interviewing stockbroker Justin Urquhart Stewart? In part because of those bright red braces he never fails to wear. It’s his personal brand. You don’t necessarily need to go that far, but men should at least choose a striking tie/shirt combo, while women have far more licence to offer a splash of dramatic colour.
  1. Use vocal modulation. An interview is a great chance to make an impact. And you can’t do that if your deathly monotonous voice sends everyone to sleep. So give your voice some oomph, use variety in pitch and tone. Punch your key messages out. At all costs, keep the journalist (and viewers/listeners for broadcast interviews) engaged.
  1. Don’t worry too much about getting your firm’s name into a broadcast interview. It is not an advert, and the journalist is interested in your expertise, not the name of your firm. If you manage to get your firm’s name in, perhaps once and as seamlessly as possible, you’re doing well. But if in doubt, leave it out, and be satisfied with a name check at the start and end. If you try to shoehorn your firm’s name into the interview where it doesn’t belong, you will merely irritate the journalist and make it much less likely you’ll be invited back.

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Article date

April 4th, 2016

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer

@RT_MediaTrainer

My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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