In addition to marketing and PR for the horse world, I also write articles for equine publications such as The Horse and Equine Journal. In doing so, I often talk with people who are at the top of their game when it comes to their careers and ability to be subject matter experts.
I’ve often found that the bigger the ‘name,’ the more likely that person is to be prepared with their responses, generous with their time, and available for follow-up or additional questions. This makes everything proceed more smoothly, and is a big help to the person trying to tell your story, who is often doing so under deadline and other pressures.
Past interviews I’ve done have included top veterinarians (even an incoming president of AAEP), large-scale equine business owners, international equine researchers, and world-class equestrians, including Olympic medal winners. Despite busy schedules, they’ll carve out time for a phone or in-person interview, give me private contact information such as their personal mobile number or email address for any additional questions or clarifications, and have high-resolution images that can be used. While they might have had coaching by a public relations pro, they’ve also likely had some past media experience that’s helped them learn the ropes.
Preparing For Your Spotlight Moment
For your own horsebiz, journalists, bloggers, and photographers are the conduits to your audiences; they’re the ones who can help you tell your story and get your name into the media. You can never be too prepared for these media moments.
If you’ve never thought about media interaction as part of your marketing strategy, it’s worth spending some time to review, and to practice. Have a friend pretend to ‘interview’ you and see how you do.
- Are you prepared and articulate in your answers, or do you stumble on words or concepts?
- How do you come across on audio (I use a digital voice recorder, as do many journalists) or video?
- Do you say ‘ah,’ ‘um,’ or ‘like’ a lot? Or have other vocal habits that don’t come across well?
- Are you able to be calm, comfortable, and engaging?
I’ve coached clients for interviews; sometimes helping them identify the topics and reminding them they know more than they think they do is enough to help them feel confident for speaking to the media, but a little practice never hurt anyone! It’s like preparing for the showring…all the hard work happens back home during schooling, so you can really shine when the spotlight, and all eyes, are upon you.
I’ve found some excellent Media Interview Guidelines from the California Association of Realtors, and I’d also add in the following horsebiz tips:
- If you can, research either the interviewer and/or the media outlet before the interview. Knowing the interviewer helps you feel prepared for questions they might ask; knowing the outlet helps you understand their audience.
- Ask the interviewer about the story angle and focus of the article, so your answers can be targeted and concise. For example, if they’re interviewing you about newborn foals, you shouldn’t give answers that are about mature horses.
- If you’re being interviewed by a ‘mainstream’ journalist rather than an equine-industry one, be aware they’ll likely know very little about horses, so it’s your job to help them understand important details that are second nature for you.
- Have high-resolution (300 dpi) images ready to send in digital format, with appropriate photo releases signed and on file, and photo credits listed. Be sure you have permission from the photographer or copyright owner to use the image, and remember to include your own metadata in the image files! And, because of the seasonality of the horse world, think ahead for photo opportunities; take images in all seasons, of all aspects of your horsebiz throughout the year.
- If it’s a print article, ask the interviewer if you can review a draft for fact & quote accuracy before the story. I always ask my sources to do a review to be sure I’ve captured information correctly, since it helps everyone. But you also have to be available to review a draft and turn it around quickly.
Media opportunities can come up suddenly and when you least expect them, so taking time to be prepared will let you take advantage when they do arise.
Have you been interviewed and/or photographed for the media? What worked well, and what didn’t? Share your media stories via the Leave a Comment link below.