I was on a media tour in New York with a long term public relations client of mine. As we made our way through the streets of Manhattan, we started talking about the characteristics of a great interview.
Ideally, of course, such an interview occurs when the reporter asks the right questions and the spokesperson has intelligent and witty answers at the ready.
Much of an interview’s success, though, relies on the skill of the reporter. As a public relations specialist, I have met and worked with a slew of reporters over the course of my career, and my favorite journalists share a host of characteristics that make them great to work with. To my delight, I know many journalists who live up to my standards.
My lofty standards (a.k.a. what I look for in a good reporter):
- Knowledgeable – My clients love to be interviewed by journalists who have a working knowledge of the mutual fund industry. Journalists don’t need to be experts—that’s the spokesperson’s job—but when both parties arrive at an interview with a common knowledge base, the interview is richer, more engaging, and satisfying for everyone.
- Flexible – Journalistic flexibility is an incredibly valuable trait, and one that is shared by many of my favorite reporters. Journalists and spokespeople have different agendas—as they should—but there is nothing better than a journalist who is willing to veer away from their own interests in order to learn about a spokesperson’s perspective. This creates a richer relationship to draw upon in the future.
- Efficient – It’s rare that a reporter doesn’t have a few follow up questions after an interview. I always notice when someone is efficient in asking those questions—reporters who consolidate their queries, and strive to make getting the answers convenient and enjoyable for my clients frequently become a go to contact in my book.
- Conscientious – I met many of the journalists who I currently book client interviews with early in their careers when they were working different beats and maybe even for different publications. Over time, their jobs have shifted to cover different topics and areas as their skills have developed and assignments have changed. I’ve noticed that many standout journalists treat my clients as if they are the key component to an upcoming story, even if the interview doesn’t go perfectly. This foresight shows great wisdom about the journalism industry and goes a long way towards preserving relationships that may be valuable in the future.
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