That said, understanding dynamics at play can aid in the interview-to-quote conversion. The following tips are based on witnessing thousands of interviews over 15 years and from recent discussions with journalists.
Inside interviewee’s control:
- No coherent messaging
- Not answering the actual question
- Not prepared for the topic
- Answers too short – source won’t elaborate or dig deeper
- Refusing to answer the question, responding “I don’t cover that” or “I’m not allowed to comment”
Outside interviewee’s control:
- Reporter’s agenda or potential biases
- Editor’s agenda or potential biases
- Source is redundant – offering information too similar to other sources
- Story changes direction after interview takes place
- Interview is “on background” meaning the reporter is exploring ideas and topics with no formal plans for a story, sometimes an introductory conversation
- Story dies
With these elements in mind, it’s easier to see how one might approach an interview such that the likelihood of being quoted is enhanced.
As such, tell useful and interesting anecdotes, be original, be insightful and comment on topics that are perhaps not as central to your core messaging with the intent that you can then transition to areas of most importance to you.
I find after years of witnessing thousands of interviews, the best outcomes are when a source genuinely seeks to help the reporter. Be available, really listen to the question and respond with depth. Overall, don’t give up if you’re not included in a story. Journalists remember when someone helps them and should come back to you with future opportunities.
Being prepared often requires participation in a media training and message development workshop. SunStar can help.