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Preparing for a media interview

Preparation is key to ensuring a media interview goes smoothly and successfully.

General interview tips

  • Arrive early, especially for a live interview. Be ready in your office or laboratory 10 minutes ahead of schedule if the reporter is coming to you.
  • If you’re feeling nervous about your media interview, that’s okay. It’s perfectly normal. Notify your media relations liaison know so they can help you prepare.
  • Ask a reporter for clarification if you don’t understand a question.
  • If a reporter asks you a question you do not know the answer to, it’s okay to say, “I can’t answer that here, but let me find out and follow up with you.”
  • If a reporter asks a trick question, reframe it. (E.g.: “That particular area that you’ve asked about isn’t part of my expertise, but what I can tell you is…”)
  • Remember that discussion before and after the interview remains “on the record.” Be mindful of casual conversations.
  • A reporter is not required–or likely–to allow you to read/watch their news story before it runs. Do not ask to see it. The best thing you can do is make yourself available to your media relations liaison for fact-checking to help ensure the story is produced accurately.
  • Be aware that the reporter may ask for your personal contact information after the interview. Ask the reporter to reach you through your media relations liaison.

Messaging Tips

  • Prepare three key messages, or takeaways, to share your story. Practice communicating them in short sound bites so reporters can use them as quotes in their newspaper articles or sound bites in broadcast stories. Repeat these messages often during your interview.
  • Be familiar with UTSA’s three strategic destinations: By 2028, UTSA will become a model for student success, a great public research university and an exemplar for strategic growth and innovative excellence. During your interview, communicate often about how your work is helping UTSA reach these goals.
  • Remember that UTSA’s Chief Communications Officer is the only person authorized to make statements or comments on behalf of institutional matters. If someone asks you about UTSA’s position on a topic, tell the reporter to University Communications for that information.

Additional considerations for a radio interview

  • Listen to the program you will be on at least twice before you have your interview. This will help you understand its format.
  • During the interview, be aware of your surroundings and ambient noise. Do not drum on the desk or the mic. Do not eat or chew gum.
  • Speak clearly and into the microphone. Use everyday language that the average listener will understand.

Additional considerations for a television/video interview

  • Dress appropriately. Do not wear busy patterns like plaids. Avoid prominent red, all white, all black, or green clothing. (Red is not a school color. All white, all back and green don’t work well on camera.) Please also avoid wearing the same color as your background.
  • If a reporter is coming to your office or home to conduct the interview, give it a once over before they show up to ensure that anything you do not want showing on camera has been put away.

Additional considerations for a print interview

  • Ask at the beginning if the reporter plans to record the interview. It is legal in Texas to be recorded without permission but helpful for you to know if the reporter plans to do so.
  • Offer additional information to help their article as it pertains to the original story request. This could include photos, data, reports, etc. Keep in mind that anything you provide could be posted online.
  • If the interview is for a general publication, use laymen’s terms to describe your work. If a trade reporter is interviewing you, it’s okay to use industry jargon.

Additional considerations for interviews with bloggers

  • Most blogs have been created for marketing and compensation purposes. The majority of bloggers are not trained with journalism guidelines and ethics. Therefore, it is appropriate to ask a blogger to read and approve the story before it posts. As all media, they need to obtain approval to interview you by working through University Communications.