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Develop your key media interview messages and support them

For a media interview, set an agenda, identify the audience and determine your communications objectives. Startups need to master media skills in order to promote, sell and share their messages. This series discusses what you need to know—see the introductory overview as well as the full series list below.


A key media message is a short, memorable 15-second nugget of information that supports your overall media interview and business objectives. Each one should be a positive, memorable statement you want to address whether the interviewer asks you about it or not. Essentially, key messages support what you want to get out of the media interview!

These statements must be developed for each opportunity and break through all the information clutter to grab the audience’s attention in a clear, interesting and memorable way.

Step 1: Set your agenda for the media interview

A good first step is to ask what kind of news story and headline you would like to see. From there, determine your messages and build that story. Your message will always be filtered and altered, so ensure it fits within the context of the story.

Step 2: Identify your audience

The interviewer is not your key audience. They serve as a vehicle through which your message is delivered to readers, viewers and listeners. Understanding what is relevant to the people consuming the content is critical to delivering an informative and valuable interview and to creating meaningful key messages.

Audiences can include:

  •     Existing and potential customers
  •     Investors, analysts and shareholders
  •     Business partners
  •     Employees
  •     Municipal, provincial and federal government officials
  •     Regulatory officials

Step 3: Determine your communications objectives for the media interview

Once you’ve identified the target group, you need to determine how you want to motivate this audience. Ask yourself what actions you expect them to take or what impressions about you and your organization you want to leave with them. Do you want them to:

  •     Support or oppose the issue in question?
  •     Buy your product?
  •     Visit your website?
  •     Invest or become a partner?
  •     Take some other action?

Prepare your key messages

To achieve your objective, it’s necessary to develop three to five clear, concise messages your audience will remember and act upon. Similarly, you need to be able to effectively remember and deliver your messages!

Remember to:

  •     Keep your messages short (15-second nuggets of information).
  •     Keep them positive.
  •     Keep them relevant to the context of the interview.
  •     Keep them clear and concise.

Support your key messages

Don’t forget to practice MBA (i.e., make your point; back it up; add colour).

Make your point

Keep it simple. Stay conversational, use your own words and avoid jargon.

Back it up

Make sure you can back up every key message with facts and examples. To increase the news value of your key messages, illustrate them with details or examples to make them memorable.

  • Use facts that are simple and easy to understand, as long as you can back them up.
  • Cite statistics, survey results and research in human terms (for example, say “one in five people,” not “20% of the population”).
  • Include information and/or studies from third-party experts, authorities or sources.

Add colour

If you can, include analogies, comparisons, anecdotes and personal experience. Use descriptive language and vivid word pictures to make points more interesting to the audience.

Exercise: Media interview preparation

Complete this exercise as you prepare for your media interview.

Articles in this series: