The Harbinger Group

Mastering the Art of Back-to-Back Interviews

A packed schedule of back-to-back interviews can present significant challenges for any spokesperson. From maintaining message consistency to regulating energy levels, there’s a delicate balance to uphold throughout the day. The Harbinger Group’s earned media experts prepared their top tips to assist spokespeople in navigating the demands of nailing a series of media interviews:

1. Emphasize Key Messages Early and Often

The cornerstone of being an effective spokesperson lies in mastering your messaging. Instead of memorizing, try to become as familiar with your key messages as you can. Put them in your own words so that your delivery is natural and credible. Preparation is essential. Overprepare if you can. You want to have hyperfamiliarity with your core messaging. Prepare a “deck of cards” consisting of multiple anecdotes, engaging stories, and data points that support your message points. This technique allows you to rotate through them and offer a slightly unique take on the story you are telling to each media outlet without deviating from your core message. Incorporating this technique into how you respond will ensure that every outlet you interview with doesn’t have the same quote.

2. Fight Spokesperson Fatigue

It takes meticulous planning to mitigate spokesperson fatigue. Strategically scheduling interviews in blocks can help you stay fresh and energized. Try to build 5-10 minute breaks in between back-to-back interviews to have a few moments to breathe, stretch and reset. It’s also helpful to build in a short snack or lunch break. Before your day starts, set aside time to do some breathing exercises or a short meditation. This will help center your mind and regulate your heart rate before the interview begins. You should also bring along a communications staff member or someone you trust to assist you with managing logistics, like last-minute interview time or location changes, interview prep, key messaging updates, etc.

Before your day starts, set aside time to do some breathing exercises or a short meditation. This will help center your mind and regulate your heart rate before the interview begins.

3. Handling Breaking News and Live Interview Situations

On occasion, there can be a breaking news situation that’s relevant to your industry. You may be asked with short notice to join a reporter or show host for a broadcast interview. It’s important to have your trusted communications staff member or team standing by monitoring online conversations and social media for you. Your team can assist in identifying breaking topics that you may be asked about, provide you with a few different ways you can approach those topics, and share any additional relevant information that will help you prepare for the interview. This guidance applies to any live interview situation, whether it’s broadcast, a press conference or live event on social media. 

If a reporter tosses you a tricky question, the bridge technique will be your best friend. This technique is important to keep in your toolbox! That’s because it allows you to control the direction of the interview regardless of the question. The bridge technique is when you acknowledge the question and then “bridge” over to your key message. So, it could be a simple phrase like, “That’s an important point, and it leads us to discuss X, Y and Z.” This “bridge” enables you to redirect the conversation back to your core message points. Preparation, staying relaxed and keeping an upbeat demeanor will also help you navigate any sticky situations that may arise.

4. Be Authentic

It can be tough to keep your energy levels up during long interview days, but it’s important to do so because a drop in energy can result negatively affect your delivery. Remember to get up and move, fuel up on nutritious snacks and water and breathe in between interviews. It’s imperative to maintain a natural and engaging demeanor throughout interviews, even when it feels like a whirlwind. One way to do that is to be authentic. By embracing authenticity, you can forge genuine connections with interviewers and audiences alike, which fosters rapport and trust. Be yourself – it’s very stressful trying to be someone else.

5. Evaluate Your Delivery

Every media interview is an opportunity to learn. After a long day of interviews, it’s important to review your game tapes! Try your best to do so quickly while the interviews are fresh in your mind. Aim to debrief at the end of the day or first thing the next morning so that your team can deliver feedback to you as close to in the moment as possible. Listen to an audio recording your team captured or comb through the transcript to identify the “do’s” and “don’t’s” for next time. Pay attention to the outcomes of these conversations in order to get better. 

To recap, remember the following tips to master your next day of back-to-back interviews: