Tips for Success

  • Be clear about whom you represent—yourself, your library or library association. If a host misstates your name or affiliation, gently but firmly correct him/her immediately.
  • Stay on message. You may have heard it many times, but chances are your audience hasn’t. Aim to deliver your key message at least three times.
  • Know your audience. Find out the name and type of the publication, station or program and the type of readers/listeners it has. Ask the reporter/producer what the "angle" is. Tailor your remarks accordingly.
  • Be prepared to answer the standard "Who-What-Where-When-Why and How" questions—also the tough ones you’d rather not be asked.
  • Write your key message, talking points and tough questions on note cards. Review them before you do an interview. Keep them in front of you when doing radio or telephone interviews.
  • Talk in "sound bites." This is especially important with broadcast media when you may have only about 10 seconds to respond. Your key message should be short and pithy. Practice limiting your answers to 20 words or less. If reporters want more, they will ask more questions.
  • Stay focused. An interview is not a conversation. It’s conversational. The interviewer has a job to do. Do not let down your guard. Practice the techniques in the Staying in Control section.
  • Never give inaccurate information. If you are unsure, simply say, "I’m sorry I don’t know that. I’ll be glad to check and get back to you."
  • Help the reporter/interviewer help the audience understand. Provide fact sheets and other background materials. Suggest other spokespeople to contact.
  • Remember to smile. It's important to come across as friendly and likeable as well as professional.

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