Strategically Speaking: A Blog by Denha Media Group
When I worked in radio, I spent a significant amount of time sifting through interviews searching for the sound bite. In print journalism, it’s the quote. When you are being interviewed, it is important to stay on message. Don’t let the reporter get you off track or don’t go on a tangent about something completely unrelated. A reporter’s time is valuable and in today’s immediate news demands, they have less time than ever to spend interviewing people.
However, giving a good quote or sound bite means you have to say something new, compelling — something that stands out and gets attention.
Decades later, politicians across the country still quote John F. Kennedy, “don’t ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” And, Neil Armstrong, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Now, maybe your quote won’t stand the test of time but it could determine whether you are part of a story.
Many interviewees will know a head of time that a reporter will ask those questions and they often know the subject matter so, think of a metaphor or quick anecdote to illustrate your point. Sometimes case studies will help the reporter take a closer look at a problem you may have solved.
Often in political speeches, the elected official will point to a constituent in the audience to make reference to something positive that is happening in the Country, State, County or City. Their stories help tell your story.
When I worked on the annual State of the County address for the Wayne County Executive, I wrote various versions of the same point to create a sentence that was quotable. One that I remember is a version of something I wrote for him that I still use today in my verbiage, “The plans we make today will determine how we live tomorrow.”
Remember, you have a message to deliver to the public and your quote will emphasize that message. The message is the overall picture and the quote is a short and to the point statement that will drive that message forward.
What you don’t want to say during an interview no matter how challenging the question is “no comment” or worse yet, end an interview or walk away in the middle of the interview. Don’t tell the reporter a question is stupid. Off the record statements should be used sparingly and avoid making offensive comments.
When you are coming up with ideas, jot down quotable quotes, antidotes, memorable moments and a quick story. Make sure they enhance or add to the overall message. If you want to be remembered or at the very least, quoted in a story then think about what you want to say first.
In the early 1960s, a civil rights activist made a declaration in front of millions of people and every year on his birthday we are reminded of that statement: “I have a dream”
A good quote is worth repeating. So, work on the quotable quotes and sound soundbites before you do any interview.
Vanessa Denha Garmo is founder of Denha Media Group