It’s that nagging feeling, right after you’ve given a media interview, that you didn’t quite nail it. That you could have done a better job.
If only I had answered that one question differently. Did I say ‘um’ too many times? Could they see that I was sweating? They’re not going to put that last thing I said in the story, are they? If they do, our competitors are going to have a field day with it. What’s my boss going to say?
Cue anxiety. Self doubt. Interview regret.
Until they invent the time machine, the best way to avoid interview regret is to develop a better understanding of how a media interview really works (hint: it’s not a conversation), to be more intentional about your media interactions and to put in the work BEFORE the reporter even says hello.
There are a lot of otherwise smart, successful people out there who mistakenly think that the heavy lifting of a media interview takes place during the interview. That they need to be coming up with brilliant answers in the moment, improvising and adjusting on the fly.
The people who are able to consistently generate superior media relations outcomes are the ones who put in the work prior to the interview. They also know how to prepare. It’s not about writing five or six self-serving marketing messages and repeatedly flinging them at the reporter like a politician.
The best spokespeople are the ones who are able to think like reporters. They create authentic messaging that’s customized for their audience. They understand their rights and obligations in a media interaction. They know a short interview is better than a long one. They also know that they have more control over the length of an interview than most people think. They often have someone on staff who will push them and challenge them when it comes to honing their media relations skills. They’re mindful of telling their story with their words, rather than parroting back the reporter’s words (which is the most common media interviewing mistake). They understand the upside of doing a practice interview in-house (and getting frank feedback) before speaking to the journalist for real. They appreciate the value of great media training and put themselves through a workshop every few years to stay sharp.
Regret is part of being human. Who doesn’t regret a choice they’ve made or something they did or didn’t do in their life? But when it comes to media interviews (and the resulting coverage), however, regret is 100% avoidable. You just need to be willing to put in the required work before the interview starts.