Making it Count: Building Materials Brands and the Media Interview
Article Date: November 15, 2022
Is Your Company Ready for the Spotlight?
Perhaps your building materials brand is ready to introduce a product that required years of research and testing, and that product is poised to alter the dynamic for the building envelope or change the conversation about energy efficiency. Maybe your company’s new CEO is ready to articulate a vision for the future of your enterprise, one you seek to share with architects, specifiers, and builders. Or your brand is investing in a massive expansion to increase production and deliver better product turnaround time for your prospects and customers.
You share this news with the marketplace, and then the media comes calling. A reporter has requested an interview with someone at your organization. She is writing a story for her publication, and she is on deadline.
Are you ready for what comes next?
Earning Media Coverage
In today's hyper-fragmented world of marketing, your building products brand needs to have a firm handle on the different types of media at your disposal and how each operates:
- Paid media has dollars behind it, meaning paid advertising. You have paid to place an ad online or in a relevant trade publication about your brand, your product, or your service. You secure the space, you control the message, and you dictate the timing and frequency.
- Owned media is defined as media you control because you generate and share the content via your own platforms. This can be everything from your blog and your website to your social media channels or an email marketing campaign you conduct.
- Earned media comes in the form of media coverage you are successful in securing from an independent, third party. You haven’t paid for it. Instead, you have earned a spot in a story they are publishing or posting.
Earned media carries the highest level of credibility, because you do not control the channel, and you do not pay for the resulting coverage.
Earned media opportunities present themselves in a variety of ways. When it involves a reporter interviewing a member of your organization for their insight and perspective, you will want to capitalize on the chance to position your brand in a positive and meaningful way. Target audiences who read the resulting story about you may very well form impressions about your brand based on what they have read. The story may expose you to larger or newer audiences, widening the reach of your message and potentially attracting new customers.
Conversely, if you are not prepared and the interview goes badly, you run the risk of painting your company and its services in a negative light. Based on the resulting media coverage or article that is published, a poor performance in an interview even has the potential to trigger a crisis for the brand, one you had not foreseen.
A Successful Media Interview: Top Five Tips
People who find themselves at ease in regular conversation or who welcome the opportunity to present in front of a crowd can immediately become insecure – even intimidated – when they find themselves across from a trained journalist.
Why? Because being interviewed by the media comes with entirely different rules of engagement in a highly charged atmosphere that requires quick thinking.
Consider these best practices:
- Prepare, prepare, prepare: Stepping into the batter’s box at a baseball game without any practice lessens the chances that you will make contact with the ball when it comes over the plate. There is even less of a chance that you will hit a home run. The same is true when it comes to media interviews. Never underestimate the value of preparation. Work with your team and your agency partner to uncover a reporter’s angle, stories she has previously covered, what questions she might ask, and where you might encounter pitfalls or difficult inquiries. Conduct mock interviewing sessions with your team before you step into the interview so you practice your responses and are comfortable with the messages you intend to share. Ensure that they correlate closely with how you seek to present your brand.
- Come with a story to tell: For your brand, a media interview should evolve beyond just answering questions posed to you. You should have a tightly packed, carefully crafted story in mind to tell the reporter. Identify and take ownership of several key messages you seek to impart. Ensure you have full command of those messages, and work to repeat them as often as is feasible during the interview.
- Stick to the facts: You have been invited to serve as a source on a media story because of you and your company’s position in the marketplace or because of the news you have shared. Your instincts will kick in when a reporter poses a question, and you will want to come up with an answer to it even if you are not able to answer the question. Stick to the facts you have at your disposal. Speak with authority on what you can quantify. Never manufacture answers or speculate. If it is a fair question and you do not have an answer, agree to locate one, and promise to get back to the reporter.
- Arm yourself with examples: The best way to illustrate a point is to have examples at your disposal. If you are talking about a new product, deliver statistics or facts on its performance characteristics instead of simply describing it as innovative. How much more energy efficiency does it generate? What source of authority enables you to make that statement? Do you have research you have conducted? Why is it better than what is on the marketplace? Is there a project or real-world scenario that demonstrates its efficacy? Point to it, describe it, and help illustrate the point so you are making a definitive case.
- Be precise and brief: When responding to a reporter, work to package your answers into carefully crafted, impactful statements. Formulate your answers so that they are packed with the right amount of crucial information and are readily discernible. Make them too short, and you risk just skimming the surface of the subject. In this way, you will fail to serve as a credible source with true perspective and a valuable point of view. Go into too much detail, and you may lose the reporter or wander too far off the point. Work diligently so you are armed with the right information – and the right amount of data – and can deliver it in a meaningful way at the right moment.
One of the most important rules of engagement to remember: When you are in the presence of a reporter, you are always “on the record.” That means whatever you share can then be shared by them to their audience. Throughout a conversation with a reporter and during the actual interview, it is critical that you maintain this mindset and its potential impact on how your brand is portrayed.
Get in Some Practice: The Value of Media Training
One way to ensure that your subject matter experts are ready to be interviewed by the media is to have them participate in a media training workshop. Best-of-breed media training workshops work to impart critical intelligence to participants on the modern media landscape, the media’s operating principles, the mindset of a reporter, how to craft a company’s story, and effective response techniques when it is time to do an interview with a journalist.
The impact of such training is not limited to engagements with the media. Some of these same techniques are effective in a variety of scenarios for professionals across your organization, from operations to sales. It can empower your people to be more effective in their engagements at trade shows or during industry presentations. Media training techniques can also prove to be effective on a sales call.
BLD Marketing’s team of public relations practitioners includes former journalists who are experts at media training.
Let us help you get prepared when it is your turn in the spotlight.
BLD Marketing is a results-based, digitally-focused, full-service strategic marketing firm exclusively serving the commercial and residential building materials category.