Prepare for the difficult interview before it happens
By Curtis Ramsey-Lucas
Are you prepared for a confrontational interview? Have you considered the most difficult, awkward or embarrassing questions you might be asked? Have you planned brief responses to those questions in advance?
If not, you may not be as prepared as possible for the media environment in which religious communicators find themselves today.
With their workshop, “In the spotlight: handling media interviews like a pro,” Anuttama Dasa and Ryan Koch covered the basics of media relations was well as tips for effective interviews. The workshop was one of several Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) offerings at the 2019 annual convention of the Religion Communicators Council that met in Chicago.
Dasa, minister of communications and member of the governing body of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), travels extensively to teach media skills. Koch is director of the Public and International Affairs Office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the challenges and opportunities of becoming a dependable and reliable resource to the media.
Workshop participants took turns practicing essential skills for effective interviews including being prepared to convey three main points early and often and being ready to “turn questions” to make your point.
“It’s a journalist’s job to probe,” noted Dasa. “They can be hostile, provocative, tenacious, even misinformed. Don’t take it personally or be intimidated. It’s your job to remain objective, to get your point across, and to do so in a pleasant and clear manner.”
In so doing, religious communicators can help define the story for the journalist while effectively communicating the concerns and purposes of the organizations they represent.
Curtis Ramsey-Lucas is editor of The Christian Citizen, a publication of American Baptist Home Mission Societies. He lives in King of Prussia, PA.