Getting Across Your Message

During an interview with a reporter, you each have a goal. The reporter’s goal is to get the information he or she needs for the story. Your goal is to get across your message in a clear way. Ideally, the information needed by the reporter is the same message you are sharing. But sometimes, that doesn’t happen, such as when a reporter doesn’t know enough about the subject or may have a different story idea in mind.

Here are some tips to help you better communicate your message.

  • Identify the points that you must get across in this interview. Are you doing an interview about stress? Write down three key points. Here are some messages that are used for the public education campaign:
  • Stress is a serious health problem. Relying on unhealthy behaviors to manage stress can lead to long-term illnesses such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
  • Psychologists can help by addressing behavior and lifestyle changes that can help reduce stress, improve overall mind/body health and prevent disease.
  • Identifying early warning signs of chronic stress is important to good health. Responding with the necessary behavior and lifestyle changes can help prevent long-term illnesses, such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
  • It is important to rely on a network of friends and family for support when making lifestyle and behavior changes to better manage stress.
  • Taking steps to maintain a healthy mind and body can aid in disease prevention and management.
  • Use supporting information to expand on your points. Information from the Stress in America survey, anecdotes or other facts that are local to your area will help provide more information about the points you’re making. But avoid getting too technical about research or statistics if the story is for a general consumer publication or news shows.
  • Practice developing bridges to the key points. If a question is asked that stirs away from the points you’re making, use key phrases to bring the interview back to your message. Some phrases are “The point is…,” “What we need to focus on…,” “What’s important is…”
  • It’s okay to correct or clarify misinformation. Remember that you’re the expert on this area. If a reporter asks a question or makes a comment that is not correct, politely correct the information. Use a bridge to get back to a message point if you need to.
  • Stop talking when you’ve made your point. If you’ve stated your point, and you know that it was clear and concise, stop talking. The silence will keep you from going off topic or saying something that you wouldn’t want to see in print. Just wait, and let the reporter ask the next question or end the interview.
  • Repeat your points at the end of the interview. Most interviews end with a reporter asking if you would like to add anything else. Use the opportunity to repeat your most important point. “I’d just like to repeat that …”

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