Things Entrepreneurs Should Know When Speaking to the Media

entrepreneurshipSkill Development

What’s one important personal branding lesson that every entrepreneur needs to learn before talking to the media?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Keep it short

“You get 29 words, nine seconds and three key points. It’s the 29-9-3 rule. This is a concept that originated with the legal profession, but it holds true for PR. If you can’t get out the most important aspects of your product or business using this rule, then you’ve got work to do. Particularly in today’s fast-paced, attention deficit-driven environment, keep it short, informative and sweet!”

Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, AirPR

2. Be quotable

“The media is always looking for that one quote that will grab the reader’s attention. Before your interview, think of three to four quotes that represent your brand; practice them, and find a way to work them in. This approach lets you stay in control of the story and your brand.”

Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Inc

3. Tell a story

“Something journalists are looking for is a unique story. The fact that you launched isn’t enough. What’s unique about your company compared to competitors? If you’re going to say that you are disrupting an industry, you better be able to prove it. So ask yourself, what’s special about your company? Always have a unique story to tell.”

Antonio Neves, THINQACTION

4. Be the expert

“When you’re talking to the media, you are the expert and a source of information. Reporters are not looking for a pitch fest. Offer helpful information, and in return, the reporter will cite you as the source. This strategy helps to position you as an expert and authority to the reader. Answer your customers’ question, “Why should I listen to you?””

Charles Gaudet, Predictable Profits

5. Know your stuff

“You must know about your business. Sometimes entrepreneurs only focus on certain aspects of a business. If you are talking to the media, you must be an expert at what you do.”

Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME

6. Develop your identity

“Before talking to the media, take the time to develop your identity. Think about how you want to portray yourself and how you would like others to view you — both as a person and as an entrepreneur. Create personal guidelines that keep you in check to ensure you represent yourself in the best light.”

Kevin Tighe II, WeBRAND

7. Smile

“Every entrepreneur needs to remember to smile when talking to the media. Smiling sends a subliminal message to your body that you are safe, happy and above all, calm. Whether it is on camera or off, your voice changes when you speak with a smile, making you look more at ease while also sounding confident. Besides, no media outlet wants a deadpan entrepreneur on screen, so show off those teeth!”

Kim Kaupe, ZinePak

8. Slow down

“If you’re set to communicate with the media and you start to speed up, your nonverbal communication states that you’re actually apologizing for what you’re saying. Slow down. Choose your words carefully. Articulate your message. Say it slower but better.”

Joe Apfelbaum, Ajax Union

9. Practice

“Loosen up beforehand by doing a trial run. You can record yourself doing a mock interview or record a conversation with someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Then, listen to the recording to see how you sound. No doubt you’ll find opportunities to improve before doing the real thing.”

Phil Dumontet, DASHED

10. Have an objective in mind

“First off, every time you speak to the media, have one specific objective. What is the end result you expect to get? Have the end result in mind, and then work backwards. Second, you have to learn to speak in sound bites, which are short and memorable statements that convey your key messages while also adding value to the audience. This increases the sound bite’s likelihood of being shared.”

Sean Kelly, HUMAN

11. Be authentic

“Don’t worry about being “right.” Worry about being “true.” Everyone responds best to authenticity, even if it’s controversial. Be authentic and everything else flows.”

Alexis Wolfer, The Beauty Bean

12. Be succinct

“Give short, targeted and powerful answers in as few words as possible to open up more room for questions and engagement from your interviewer. To do this effectively, it’s helpful to pause for a few seconds before answering to give yourself time to come up with a thoughtful reply. That way, you don’t end up talking out loud down a winding road before ending up at your more important punchy point.”

Jenny Blake, Jenny Blake