October 18, 2016 / by Susan Guillory

The point of public relations is to spotlight you and your business. Traditionally, being interviewed is the Golden Ticket to turning that spotlight in your direction.

If you’ve never been interviewed, you might be nervous. What should you say? What will people remember?

Thankfully, you don’t need to spill your or your organization’s entire life story during an interview. What you need and what will be most effective is a carefully constructed sound bite – a brief statement that sums up your mission in a clever, easy-to-remember manner.

The fact is: an interview (unless it’s live) usually lasts a lot longer than the sound bite that will appear on-air or in print. I’ve been interviewed for 15 minutes, and only about 90 seconds of that was used in the eventual broadcast.


What is a Sound Bite?

Think of a sound bite as your key message, boiled down. For instance, let’s say you’re discussing the inner workings of how a new workout program helps athletes run faster. You might talk for a few minutes about what your company does, but what the interviewer hears (and uses) might be: “We help athletes improve their performance naturally.”

It’s important for you to know that a lot of your explanation will be considered extraneous. With limited time to tell your story, a reporter will cut to the chase. Here’s how you can help with that.

Think About What Your Message Is

Every interview might have a different focus, so it’s important to do this every time you’re interviewed. What’s your goal for this interview? Do you want to communicate the fact that you’re opening a second location? Or that you now serve veterans?

Whatever that key point is, keep it at the forefront of your mind, and answer questions tying back to that point whenever possible.

Watch the Experts

Now is a great time to learn from the masters: Presidential candidates. They’re experts at sound bite techniques like absolutes, triples and superlatives, and by simply taking notes you can pick up on techniques that will help your words become more memorable and quotable.

SE-CO-3.8.2 How to handle tough questions from the media

Make People Sit Up and Take Notice

One way to get killer sound bites is to use shocking or impressive statistics or numbers. Of course, you don’t want to make these up, but if you have them, use them!

Something like “Three out of five people only brush their teeth once a day” is enough to make listeners put down what they’re doing and pay attention. It’s also what the interview editors will pick up on.

Practice Makes Perfect

While you can’t know exactly what interviewers will ask you ahead of time, you can practice a few sound bites so that you say them confidently when your time to shine comes around. Speak clearly and slowly, and use emotion to emphasize the importance of what you’re saying.

Having a successful interview with great sound bites sets you up for future interviews, so spend time getting it right.

How to Handle Tough Questions from the Media

There will be interviews where things take a turn and you suddenly find yourself fielding difficult questions about your brand.

It’s in these moments that staying on point is most important.

Download Cision’s guide How to Handle Tough Questions from the Media and be prepared for any situation.

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About Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory is the president of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Cision, Forbes, AllBusiness, Small Business Trends, The Marketing Eggspert Blog and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.