What should I include in a media interview background document?

A background document structured around the spokesperson's priorities and needs will help them walk into the interview with poise and confidence.

When a spokesperson is going into an interview, the sequence of thoughts going through their head is most likely something close to:

  • Where do I need to be and when?
  • What will this interview cover?
  • Who am I talking to?
  • What am I supposed to say?

A background document structured around the spokesperson’s priorities and needs will help them walk into the interview with poise and confidence.

Sample structure:

  • Logistics: Provide the logistics info at the top of the document (time, dial in, etc.); in some cases they’ll be opening this five seconds before joining the call. If this is an in-person meeting, provide clear details on the location. Always include contact information for the agency team in case something comes up at the last second. When listing the time, provide it in the spokesperson’s time zone - not yours.
  • Topic: Summarize the interview topic & state any high-priority info they need to know (ex: could they potentially be asked about financial performance).
  • Context: Summarize the client’s relationship with the reporter, their knowledge of the client, and note when the spokesperson last spoke with the reporter, and link to their most recent coverage of the client. This helps the spokesperson know how to approach the interpersonal/relationship development component of the conversation, as well as know how much additional explanation they might need to provide on the company, product or industry.
  • Reporter/publication descriptions: With this priority info out of the way, provide more background info: the reporter’s background, publications description, and links to recent articles. Think in terms of what the spokesperson needs to know and avoid letting it get too detailed or lengthy.
  • Talking points: List out talking points for the interview subject. The spokesperson should have 3-5 key messages they can reference to always draw the conversation back to what matters most. Are there other topics you think might come up in the interview? (Ex: perhaps the reporter will ask about the most recent product announcement.) Anticipate how the interview will go and provide talking points so your spokesperson is not caught off guard.
  • Press release: If the interview is tied to a specific company announcement, include the press release at the bottom of the document for your spokesperson to reference if needed.