the argument n Performing well is crucial if you are asked for an interview by a pushy TV or radio journalist. Jonathan Boddy gives some tips Andy Warhol once predicted that everyone would be famous for 15 minutes and the broadcast media is living up to that prophecy today, with a growing number of people and companies coming under the media spotlight. Journalists often pick up on the bad or sensational news and it's for that reason you might find yourself being interviewed on the TV or radio, representing the grocery industry. Perhaps your company's been involved in a food scare, or you're having to make a number of staff redundant. Whatever the reason, there are techniques you can use to enhance your personal and corporate reputation rather than destroy what has taken years to build. First of all, ask yourself why you're being interviewed. Does the media see you as the expert on a particular subject and has invited you to comment in this capacity, or has disaster struck and you're being summoned to account for your actions? As an expert you could comment on the cause of the disaster and its implications but as a representative of the company your response should be about the solutions you're putting in place. Before you start the interview, make sure you ask the interviewer some questions. Be clear what is expected. Be sure you're the right person to be involved and be clear about your aim. If you can't think of a clear positive outcome, then you have to ask yourself why you're doing the interview at all. This isn't an excuse for the dreaded "no comment" ­ you aren't there to follow the interviewer's agenda. He or she is likely to be looking for a story which may make headlines, but they certainly won't be concerned with the reputation of your company. By inviting you to talk, the media feel your views are worth hearing so you've been given a mandate to speak on behalf of your company. You are the expert and your views are important, but to put these across, a predetermined plan is an absolute must. Ask yourself what the important points are you feel people should know. Put these across clearly and succinctly. By all means make notes of what you plan to say and take them with you as a last minute reminder, but avoid using them during the interview as you'll never find the right reply written down in time and it looks amateurish. Trust yourself, your knowledge of your organisation, and your use of the language. Tabloid newspapers are masters at the short attention-grabbing headline that draws the reader in. When you're being interviewed, you have to design a form of words that neatly sums up your case, grabs the audience and makes them want to listen to what you have to say. Your words might be evocative or provocative but it's essential that people are stimulated to listen. The bigger the point you are making, and the closer to the start of the interview you produce your one liner, the better. If you have the evidence, give some examples and use verbal illustrations. Illustrate your messages with verbal pictures that will immediately convey your meaning, particularly when using statistics. By saying "as small as a matchbox" or "the number of people you can get on a double decker bus", for example. Disagree if you need to. Remember you are the expert and that's why the journalist wants to talk to you. Your participation gives the interview credibility. Your expertise and knowledge make your views important. You aren't there to be rolled over by the presenter and you must be prepared to state your case even if you disagree with their position. The British media see it as their job to test your case and you may be required to make a robust defence. In a broadcast environment you won't have much time so it is important you are prepared to disagree and keep coming back to those points you feel are important.In the broadcast media environment, there's no warm up time. Think smart and look smart. Use lots of positive eye contact and smile if appropriate. And dress for the occasion. For instance, if you're in the middle of a food scare or product recall, it wouldn't be appropriate to appear in evening dress on your way to a dinner. The media also like to talk to the people who do the job (the guy in the hard hat) rather than the PR manager or the boss. Most importantly, use your hands naturally as you would in normal conversation. The audience will draw as much if not more from how you look as what you say. Be positive and confident and you'll be proud of the results. n l Jonathan Boddy is md of Television & Radio Technique {{FEATURES }}