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Interviewing Do’s and Don’ts

Knowing how to conduct effective interviews can make all the difference in getting your message across successfully. Whether for newspaper, radio or television interviews, consider these do’s and dont’s when talking to reporters:

  • Do know the story. Ask the reporter in advance what the story is about so that you can better anticipate potential questions. (But don’t be surprised if other topics come up.)
  • Do keep eye contact. Look the interviewer right in the eye when you answer. For TV, don’t look at the camera. Don’t fiddle with your hands, lean back in your chair or, if standing, draw back from the camera.
  • Do keep your answers short. Especially for radio and TV, talk in “sound bites” – short, memorable sentences of 10 seconds or less. This will give reporters less need to edit your comments.
  • Do be positive. Use questions, even negative ones, as an opportunity to make your key points. Answer the question and then bridge to one of your messages. Reporter: “Why do roses cost so much at Valentine’s Day?” Your response may be: “Supply and demand affects rose prices, and the demand for roses is highest on Valentine’s Day. It’s our busiest day of the year because there’s nothing women want to receive more than flowers.”
  • Do ignore negativity. Don’t repeat a negative question, phrase or word. Many reporters will use buzz words to get you to repeat them in your response. Decide what’s at the root of the question and answer it as positively as you can. For example, if a reporter asks, “Why do florists gouge people with high prices during the holidays?”, don’t begin your answer, “We don’t gouge…” The negative word gouge will stick in people’s minds. Instead, begin your answer more positively, such as, “Many things factor into the cost of providing beautiful flowers year-round…”
  • Do tell a story. Use personal anecdotes to get your message across in a memorable way. For example, to illustrate the romance of the holiday, talk about how you helped one of your customers propose marriage by delivering a stunning arrangement to his sweetheart with an engagement ring tucked inside. Or, when discussing how you handle the huge Valentine’s Day demand, discuss the extra help you have hired and their regular occupations – mechanics, attorneys, veterinarians – and how people love to help out at the shop so they can experience the excitement of the holiday firsthand.
  • Do show your expertise. The media loves trends, and you can provide them with key insights for the holiday. Are more women giving flowers to men? Are you seeing a trend in Valentine’s Day flowers being used to communicate other sentiments besides just romance, such as to moms, daughters and sisters? Besides red, what other colors of roses are gaining popularity?
  • Do paint the picture. Help make the story as visual as possible. The sheer beauty of the product you sell provides a distinct advantage over other Valentine’s Day gifts, and the media is always looking for visual appeal in addition to content. Increase the amount of coverage you receive by doing the interview in your shop against a background full of flowers or designers working (scope out the best spot in advance). Encourage reporters to spend some time in your shop interviewing customers, capturing the hustle and bustle of the holiday. Invite a camera crew to ride along on a delivery truck to capture the faces of recipients of your Valentine’s Day flowers.
  • Don’t wait for the media to call you. Be the first to contact your local newspaper or radio and television stations with a story idea or to introduce yourself as a resource for a story they may currently be working on.
  • Don’t fingerpoint. Don’t disparage other industry segments in the media. There are many news stories, especially during Valentine’s Day, citing one member of the industry blaming the high cost of roses on another. Despite your feelings, a media interview is not the forum to air your grievances. It only casts a negative light on the industry as a whole and may encourage consumers to turn to alternative gifts – which are sold by your true competition.
  • Don’t feel compelled to fill up silences. Once you’ve answered the question, stop and wait for the reporter to ask another one.
  • Don’t make comments “off the record.” Don’t say anything after the microphone has been turned off that you wouldn’t want to hear on the evening news.

2018 © Society of American Florists

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