5 Questions to Ask Journalists BEFORE an Interview

You just received a call that a journalist wants to interview someone from your law firm about a story they’re pursuing. The adrenaline starts flowing and you quickly begin imagining all the great things a good interview will lead to like raising awareness about your brand, building thought leadership for your attorneys and even connecting with new clients. You can’t wait to jump off the phone and start sharing the excitement with everyone else on your team, but take a breath because you’ll want to remember these five questions to ask journalists before an interview takes place.

When is your deadline?

This may seem basic, but reporters frequently forget to say when their deadline is for an interview or story. Their answer, though, can mean the difference between you running a victory lap to tell everyone about the upcoming interview or scrambling to connect with the right people before you run out of time. Regardless of the news outlet, deadlines can range from five-minutes to five-weeks or longer. 

Even local TV and radio reporters focused on daily news stories sometimes work on long-term projects. You need to know what a journalist’s deadline is up front so you can gauge how much time you have to prepare and make an interview happen. Also remember that if the topic of the interview is more general and not related to your company only (i.e. they’re probably asking others for the same interview) your deadline means getting back to them with a confirmed interview before anyone else, regardless of when the story might publish.

What is the story about?

Make sure you get as much information as possible about the journalist’s broader story, not just about the specific interview topic. Ask follow up questions to clarify things. Sometimes this will be obvious from the very beginning, but if the journalist is asking to interview someone for their expertise on a more general topic, ask questions. This could help you identify the best person from your company for the interview. It could also help you avoid a huge mishap if the final story is actually related to negative news about a client, a bad client experience or even another department or person within your firm. 

Go a step further and ask what specific topics the journalist wants to discuss in the interview as well. Are there any statistics you will need to pull ahead of time to prepare? Any sensitive issues you’ll need to train the interviewee on before they go on the record? Remember that few journalists will send you an official list of questions before an interview, but they will all offer a list of topics they want to discuss. The journalists want you and your company to be prepared as well.

Where will the interview take place?

Get details on where the interview needs to take place ahead of time to save time later in the process. Can a TV reporter come to your office? Does the guest need to travel to the radio station for the interview? Can a newspaper reporter speak with them on the phone? If you’re speaking with national broadcast media, they may need the guest to travel to a local studio for a live broadcast interview. There are lots of possibilities, so find out what you’re working with first. There’s little worse than confirming someone is available for an interview just to find out they have to travel to the other side of town and suddenly can’t make it.

Who will do the interview?

In a lot of situations, the person calling you will be the journalist conducting the interview, but not always. Sometimes they’re coordinating for someone else. Maybe the broadcast journalist is on the phone, but has to send their camera person on their own to record the interview. This may or may not impact the nature of the interview itself, but knowing who you will sit down with for the interview helps everyone prepare and feel more comfortable once it actually takes place. 

How can you stay in touch?

If the journalist called you, make sure you get an email address to stay in touch and save for your records. If they emailed, try to get an office or mobile phone number. If they Tweeted at you (yes, this happens a lot), try to get everything else. Ensure you have all the contact information you need to follow up and stay connected throughout the interview process at the very beginning to avoid any confusion or communication lapses later on down the road.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Now that you know what questions to ask a reporter before an interview, don’t wait around for the next call. A little preparation ahead of time goes a long way in media relations, especially once you realize you may not have much time to pull details together when you actually get that call. 

If other people could answer the phone when a journalist calls, make sure they know what to do and which questions to ask as well. Consider making an interview call checklist and having it by the phone to capture all the necessary information quickly. If your firm is all digital, perhaps you can tie the checklist to a hotkey so they can quickly put together an email with all the details. 

Then make sure you log the request, news outlet and reporter information. That way you can track the story when it publishes, follow up quickly in case there are any errors and remember who you spoke with for the next time you reach out to pitch another story idea.

SAME process. Unique results.

If improving lead generation is a priority to your law firm, we would love to be your partner. Schedule a free 1-hour consultation.

Schedule Now

Mitchell Williams Law

Legal Content Marketing

We helped this growing mid-size law firm better position its attorneys as experts in key practice areas by delivering curated content.
 

Find out how.

Close

Request Your Guide to Ghidotti!

We’d love to start a conversation with you about how we can create results for you. First step? Request your very own Guide to Ghidotti to learn more about our public relations and content marketing firm. This is a look inside our agency and will give you a good feel for who we are, what we do and how we partner with our clients to move the needle.


Close

Are You the Next Rock Star on the Ghidotti Team?

The Ghidotti Team is overflowing with full-fledged rock stars. Sure – we’re looking for the best, brightest, most creative, most organized. You get the picture. But what we REALLY want is someone who we can laugh with, depend on, learn from and do great work together. Learn more about who we’re looking for and what you can expect.

Ghidotti is currently hiring an Assistant Account Executive! 

Assistant Account Executive Job Description: 

As an Assistant Account Executive, the staff member will assist the team in the execution of client activities and be exposed to all aspects of the basic services offered at the agency.

Main Responsibilities

  • Develop complete, accurate and effective lists using multiple information sources based on the agency’s resources. (Cision, online resources, etc.).
  • Write/prepare pitches, backgrounders, executive communications and various reports (as appropriate by service function) with supervision from the manager.
  • Effectively pitch and place stories for clients, with an emphasis on placement results (particularly local and regional media). (Digital-specific team members excluded).
  • Be adept at engaging in and creating content for digital media campaigns, including social media, paid campaigns (including early stages of copywriting), e-newsletters, etc.
  • Monitor for trends/marketing/story/lead opportunities that are client- or service-related. Keeping a consistent pulse on the industry trends within your client’s base.
  • Support special events such as media tours, receptions, luncheons, trade shows, grand openings, etc. 
  • Participate in group brainstorming sessions.
  • Continue advancing skills for InDesign, Photoshop and/or WordPress, as well as grasping overall design best practices (depending on position/department).
  • Continue advancing skills in agency platforms such as Cision, TVEyes, Sprout Social, Sprinklr.
  • Maintain relevant Google certifications for AdWords, GDN, Analytics or otherwise, adding at least one additional certification. (Digital team only)
  • Depending on the needs of the service area, responsibilities may extend beyond the items above as skill sets, client contracts and other extenuating circumstances dictate.

 

Rock Star Environment

We strive to create a fun, engaging atmosphere where high fives, chicken minis, and celebrations are commonplace. We lift one another up, honor achievements and reward hard work.

  1. Professional Enrichment

    Whether instructor-led, web-based or sharing during Fireside Friday, we are always learning more!

  2. Community Engagement

    We love the state of Arkansas. Our team enjoys outings to locally-owned businesses and pride ourselves on community involvement. In addition, employees are often offered free tickets to community events to get out and enjoy life with friends and family.

  3. Team Building

    Quarterly adventures for the team!

  4. Winter Recess

    We shut this place down at the holidays so we can all rest, relax and reinvigorate for the new year.

  5. Summer Fridays

    We get an early jump on the weekend every Friday during the summer.

  6. Volunteer Time Off (VTO)

    Along with your PTO, you also get VTO to use to support your favorite charity or organization.

Does this describe you?

To apply, please submit the following via email to careers@ghidotti.com

  1. Cover letter and PDF of your resume 
  2. References: 2-3 minimum
  3. Tell us how you heard about this position