Media Interview Preparation Checklist

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Congratulations! You’ve lined up an interview with a media outlet. Now you’ll get to share information about you and your brand, connect with new potential readers, broaden your network, and deepen your knowledge of promoting a book. 

These days, there’s a good chance you won’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home to do that. But before you get too comfortable, there are a few key things to keep in mind before, during, and after your interview that will ensure a smooth and successful experience.

Prepare Accordingly

Make sure the excitement of securing an interview doesn’t distract you from the preparation you’ll need to make it the best experience possible. Once the date and time are set on your calendar, your work behind-the-scene begins. 

If you haven’t already, brush up on your host’s interview style by listening to or watching recent interviews they’ve conducted. Finalize your talking points, and make sure you’ve rehearsed the main topics you’d like to get across during the interview while also being flexible and conversational.girl on laptop preparing for media interview

It’s not a bad idea to touch base with the producer or host before the interview to make sure everything is still confirmed. If you have a publicist, they will do this on your behalf!

Do a “Tech Check” 

You’ll likely be participating in your interview virtually. Because of this, it's best to do a “tech check” beforehand to make sure your sound and video (if you will be on camera) are working correctly.  

Make sure you are familiar with the platform you'll be using for the interview, and make time for a practice run or two.

Your interview should take place in a quiet spot. If you’re on camera, don’t forget to consider your surroundings. It should be as simple and clean as possible to minimize distractions. A plain wall, maybe some simple artwork, or a clutter-free bookshelf all work well. 

Relate to Your Audience

There is a reason they chose you for this interview: you have something to bring to the table!

Though you’ll want to talk about your book – and you should – be sure to relate your talking points to the audience in order to connect with them and make the most of your appearance. If you were a listener, what would you want to learn from listening to your interview?

If your interview is in person, you’ll want to maintain eye contact with your interviewer, not the camera. However, if your television interview is virtual, make sure you look into the camera (likely your webcam) the entire time to maintain the connection. Your host and the audience will feel like you are having a direct conversation with them and will be more likely to relate to and remember what you said.

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Be Clear and Concise

One of the most common mistakes people make when participating in an interview is not speaking clearly enough. As we move further into virtual interviews across the board, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re not talking too fast or mumbling. When we’re nervous, we tend to speed through what we’re saying, so try to speak slower—while still being as natural as possible—than you usually would.

Interviews are often only a few minutes long, so to make the most of your time, keep your answers as concise as possible. If you find yourself going too long in response to a question, you might miss out on several other essential talking points.

How to Promote Yourself!

While you shouldn’t begin every sentence during your interview with “As I say in my book,” it is okay and expected to share your book name and website. If the host doesn’t include it in their introduction, don’t hesitate to mention it yourself.

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Once the interview is out, don’t be shy—promote it  as much as possible! Share your interview with your network, both personal and professional, and make sure to tag the media outlet when doing so. Getting the word out about your appearance will not only help you, but it will also give a boost to the media outlet. 

With these five tips in mind, you will ace your next media interview—and might even become a regular guest!  


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Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker is a Publicist at Smith Publicity, the most prolific book marketing agency in the publishing industry, with thousands of books promoted since 1997. From first-time, self-published authors to New York Times bestsellers, Smith Publicity promotes every genre, and has secured media coverage for authors and books with every top media outlet in the U.S. And Canada. The firm has offices in Cherry Hill, NJ, and Toronto. Contact Smith Publicity at