Nothing can be more exciting for a Publicity Hound than getting a call from a reporter who asks for an interview.
But when the reporter starts asking questions, the worst thing you can do is immediately start answering them.
If you do, without knowing what the story is about, you’re putting yourself at risk. Let’s say the reporter starts asking you questions about the vitamin supplements your company sells. You explain. The next day, your comments appear in a story under the headline “Consumers should be wary of fake vitamins.”
Before you agree to an interview, the first question you should ask is, “What is the story about?” Then shut up and let the reporter talk. If you suspect that the topic is sensitive, but it has nothing to do with you or your organization, you don’t have to participate in the interview. If the story is about you, you can find out how much the reporter knows.
The second question should be, “Can you tell me what angle you are taking?”
This is a nice way of asking, “Do you have a preconceived idea about this topic?” or “Do you have an agenda?” Listen carefully and take notes. If the reporter has a preconceived notion about the story and it’s inaccurate, this is your chance to educate the reporter, or to redirect the reporter to another angle, or to talk her out of writing the story.