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6 Surefire Ways to Botch Your Media Interview

By June Campbell

Has a writer or journalist ever asked you for an interview about your industry or your business?

During the seven years that I've been a writer, I've interviewed many business people for articles that are underway. And in that time, I've encountered more than a few business people who are committed to screwing up their interview for reasons that I can only guess.

Perhaps they hate free publicity. Maybe being viewed as an industry expert is offensive to them. Or perhaps they have too much business and are looking for ways to discourage future customers.

If you're one of these people and you're asked to provide an interview, the following methods are almost guaranteed to work. Provided your goal is to botch the interview, that is.

  1. Opt Out, Then Complain
    Refuse to give the interview or simply avoid returning the writer's phone calls. Afterwards, be sure to write letters to the editor, the publisher and anyone else who will listen. Condemn the writer for getting the facts wrong or for not giving full mention of your business and your products. Where do they get off writing about your competitors instead of yourself?

    Demand an apology and bemoan the lousy state of journalism. Throw the term paparazzi around.

  2. It's On the Web Site
    Let the writer know that everything she needs to know is on your web site. Hang up.

    Be annoyed when the article mentions your company briefly but includes plenty of good quotes from your competition. Editors won't pay for articles containing only information that has been copied off web sites. Funny thing, but readers still want to see quotes from real live humans.

  3. Demand to Edit the Article
    Be outraged when the writer refuses. Don't believe it when he tells you that almost all editors will refuse to work with a writer who allows interview subjects to re-write articles. You can't see any problem with this even if most editors do consider it unethical.

    Here's another funny thing. Readers expect unbiased articles. That means good editors don't accept material that has been rewritten by interview sources.

    If you do convince the writer to show you the article, rewrite it, adding a great deal of promotional content about your business and its products.

    When the article is not published, denounce the writer and the editor as amateurs who wasted your time.

  4. Keep it Short
    Don't waste words. You were born with only a limited number of words to be spoken during your lifetime and you're not going to waste them on this interview. Respond succinctly with one word answers. Refuse to provide anecdotal information of the type that would catch a reader's interest. When asked if you have anything else to add, say "no." Use little-known technical terms and industry jargon wherever possible.

    Later, be sure to complain that the article was boring and didn't portray what your business is all about.

  5. Fight for your Rights
    Agree to be interviewed only if the publisher and writer will grant you copyright to the article. Argue with the publisher and refuse to sign any releases that are offered. If you do agree to sign something, scratch out any items you don't like and replace them with your own terms. Threaten legal action. Ignore the fact that you have limited understanding of copyright issues. Continue to haggle until the publication's deadline has passed.

    When the article is abandoned, tell everyone that you stood up for your rights with a greedy publisher and writer.

  6. You're a Romantic and Exciting Action Figure
    The writer made you sound dull and boring. You might be a mild mannered Clark Kent on the outside, but on the inside, you're Superman.

    A good writer would have known that!!!

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