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.

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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 for three positions listed below – Account Executive, Account Supervisor and Media Relations Manager.

Account Executive Job Description: 

In the Account Executive position, emphasis is placed on growing independent work within the areas of project management, client relations, media relations, digital/marketing, and/or lead generation among other skills. You are the face to our clients and will play an integral role in daily communication and should be able to demonstrate tactical excellence. 

  • Write client and internal correspondence effectively and with limited supervision.
  • Successfully plan and execute client activities such as media tours, digital and social campaigns, business missions and/or other special events. 
  • Proactively identify blog content story ideas and work with the supervisor to develop. 
  • Develop relevant blogs, e-newsletters and website content effectively and with limited supervision. 
  • Successfully manage independently the execution of all client content calendars, which can include media relations pitch calendars, blogs, social content and paid media campaigns.
  • Exhibit competency and efficiency in drafting copy for client marketing materials and/or campaigns, such as website content, e-newsletters, collateral materials, paid media campaigns, etc. 
  • As it relates to social/digital media, regularly suggest ideas, manage the planning, and comfortably execute campaigns on behalf of clients. Efficiency with Canva, a plus!
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  • 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.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

Account Supervisor Job Description: 
In the Account Supervisor position, a staff member will be responsible for assisting and managing the public relations, content marketing, digital media, account services and/or creative/strategy for clients. This position requires fully developed specialty skills, a strong understanding of the industry landscape and an understanding of client priorities and objectives.
  • Serve as the account strategist/lead and oversee/play a clear leadership role on at least three clients.
  • Manage the implementation of work plans and ensure client deliverables are successfully met on deadline.
  • Play a leadership role in the sales process by identifying additional services to sell to existing clients and assisting with RFP responses, new business proposals, presentations, etc. with senior leadership or independently.
  • Display a strong understanding of and effectively communicate Ghidotti’s service offerings to existing clients.
  • Successfully supervise at least one junior staff member, including providing guidance on their professional growth.
  • Begin to play a role in the agency’s marketing efforts, guiding aspects of certain campaigns and/or helping to execute in their areas of expertise.

Account Services: 

  • Play a clear leadership role in the planning and execution of integrated marketing campaigns for clients.
  • Develop and write comprehensive strategic marketing plans for clients.
  • Handle vendor contracts and ensure proper billing.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of successfully meeting deadlines and timelines.
  • Handle day-of logistics on behalf of clients, responding quickly and effectively.
  • Assist in providing leadership and professional development on client relations, helping team members improve their skills in managing conflict, presentations, sales, etc.

Client Strategy: 

  • Develop or oversee the visual content creation for client materials, including e-newsletters, website content, digital campaigns, marketing collateral, etc.
  • Oversee the development of marketing materials and branding campaigns.
  • Manage creative marketing campaigns on behalf of clients.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of leading brainstorms, and providing and implementing creative ideas for proposals, presentations, etc.
  • Continually provide new and ‘fresh’ ideas for proposals, new business proposals and current clients’ marketing campaigns.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

Media Relations Manager Job Description: 

In the Media Relations Manager position, a staff member will be responsible for assisting and managing the public relations, content marketing, digital media, account services and/or strategy for clients. This position requires fully developed specialty skills, a strong understanding of the public relations industry landscape and an understanding of client priorities and objectives. 

Main Responsibilities – General: 

  • Serve as the account strategist/lead and oversee/play a clear leadership role on media relations client accounts.
  • Display a strong understanding of and effectively communicate Ghidotti’s service offerings to existing clients. 
  • Successfully supervise at least one junior staff member, including providing guidance on their professional growth.

Main Responsibilities – Media Relations: 

  • Develop strategic media relations plans, direct management and outreach for client accounts with the supervision of Senior Leadership.
  • Perform with Senior Leadership to prepare a plan for strategic crisis communications.
  • Manage and facilitate the execution of media relations outreach for special events, programs and major initiatives.
  • Perform as spokesperson and coordinates official responses to media inquiries.
  • Conduct media training with clients in preparation for external media interviews. 
  • Support framing and development of main message points for better positioning prior to media interviews.
  • Prepare speeches, talking points and varied communications materials assisting client spokespersons.
  • Write pitches, backgrounders, press releases, key messages and blog posts.
  • Manage and monitor reporter hotline, client media relations calendar, metrics, media relations processes and press release approvals.
  • Propose ideas proactively for media pitches to stimulate media coverage.
  • Consistently pitch stories and secure strategic media placements assisting client reputation and business goals.
  • Manage and supervise media events along with initiatives defining company stories.
  • Identify proactive stories for trade, business as well as consumer media across multiple client industries.
  • Develop and maintain close media relations to improve press efforts.
  • Identify brands promoting opportunities and improve awareness of services and products.

Main Responsibilities – Client Strategy: 

  • Develop or oversee the visual content creation for client materials, including e-newsletters, website content, digital campaigns (webinar/live stream events), etc.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of leading brainstorms and providing and implementing creative ideas for proposals, presentations, etc.
  • Continually provide new and ‘fresh’ ideas for new business proposals and current clients’ PR campaigns.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

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