How to Be a Great News Source

Businesses contact our PR agency in Chicago because they want to get a product, service or issue in front of their target audiences.  One of the best ways to  reach your specific audiences is through an independently written story about you the news media. That means you’ll be doing more than a few media interviews. 

There are many ways to prepare so you can make the best of your time and show a journalist that you are a great news source. Our Chicago PR clients rely on our public relations consultants to help them prepare for media interviews.  If you don’t have a PR agency to rely on, these are questions to ask before doing the interview. 

  • What research should I conduct before the media interview?

  • What questions should I ask the reporter, so they best tell my story?

  • What goals should I set before the interview?

  • What are interview best practices?

  • After the interview, what are my next steps?

Q: What research should I conduct before the interview?

A: Even before your interview is confirmed, preparation is power. As a news source, conducting your own research is a vital part of the interview process that can make all the difference in how you’re quoted or how your organization is positioned. Once you know who your interviewer is, look up their bio, social media posts and recent articles they have written. This information can give you a good idea of what kind of interviewer they are and what questions they may ask you. From there, see if your competitors have been quoted in their stories or if anyone you know has been interviewed by them before. If possible, give them a call to ask about the reporter’s approach and attention to detail. 

Q: What kind of questions should I ask the reporter to help them best tell my story?

A: Don’t make the mistake of leaving all the questions to the interviewer. After conducting your research, reach back out to the reporter to better understand their expectations prior to the interview. How much time will they allocate to talk to you? Who else will they interview? Can you ask a colleague (head of communications) to join the interview? Do they need photos or logos? Would they like to talk to a customer or stakeholder who’s benefitted from your product or services? No one likes stuffing inboxes with an unending stream of back and forth emails, so asking these questions will help make the process efficient for you, your team and the journalist.

Q: What goals should I set before the interview happens?

A: After the interview has been confirmed, set aside some time to think about your goals. Ask yourself, “What is my desired outcome from doing this interview?” or “How would I like my quote to appear?” or “What headline would really capture my company, product or expertise?” or “What point of view can I contribute right now that is relevant to today’s news cycle?”  

Once you’ve answered those questions about the content of your remarks, the next challenge is to deliver clear quotable, concise answers. Many of my clients will develop the list of potential questions and write out their answers ahead of time. Journalists don’t have a lot of time, so providing compelling and concise answers is the most important deliverable in your interview. 

The best answers often come when you’ve practiced them ahead of time. Your practice sessions should include these steps: 

  • Be able to clearly communicate your service/product or mission
  • Prepare talking points or a message you want to get across
  • Have relevant impact stories or testimonials ready to share
  • Be ready with names of one or two people or organizations who can describe your impact 
  • Have your professional headshot ready as well as other photos that demonstrate your impact or the benefits of working with you

Q: What are some interview best practices to consider for the interview?

A: Depending on how your interview will be conducted, whether it be live on TV, over Zoom or by phone, there are different best practices for a successful interview. These can include anything from wearing the right clothing to being prepared for the typical “Is there anything I missed?” question. In my experience, the basic practices you should have down for any type of interview are as follows:

  • Know the motives of the reporter – what do they want to get out of this interview?
  • Envision what questions may be asked and work with your team on the answers
  • Write down your value message and rehearse it before the interview
  • Establish a timeline for the interview and prepare talking points accordingly

To learn about specific best practices for different interview settings, be sure to check out our blog, Best Practices To Ace Your Media Interview.

Q: After the interview, what next steps do I need to take before the story is published or aired?

A: If your interview will be broadcasted live, there isn’t much you need to do besides share the news on social media and thank the interviewer and news outlet. However, for interviews that will be used in articles or other media formats that will be published later, the post-interview process may be a bit more involved. To start, you should follow up with the reporter to ask how your story is going. This is a great opportunity to both build your relationship with the reporter and make sure they have all the material they need to make a great story. You can offer to help with fact-checking or confirm specific details, but DO NOT ask to review a draft of the article. Doing this is considered a worst practice and could ruin your chances of getting another interview. Once the story appears, consider ways to increase your exposure. If one reporter cares about your expertise, would others also be interested in learning about you or your company or nonprofit? Can you transform the messages you’ve already prepared into a first-person essay that may serve as a letter to the editor or an opinion piece to your local newspaper? Don’t stop with one interview. Keep looking for ways to raise awareness about your organization and elevate your thought leadership. 

Want more tips for becoming a great news source? Just contact me and let’s have a chat.








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