Can I Quote You on That? The Do’s and Don’ts of Media Interviews

Posted: June 18, 2010 in Marketing, PR

The last few weeks have been interesting in terms of discussions surrounding MMA fighters and their relationship with the media.  Sherdog.com posted an interesting piece “Fighters versus media,” focused on certain fighter’s (like Anderson Silva) disdain for media interviews.  Other fighters however, can’t get enough air time to spout their grievances.  Just to name a few:

‘Rampage’ says lighten up about gay slurs, still doesn’t get it;
–  Koscheck tests St. Pierre’s patience;
–  Chael Sonnen Believes He Saved Anderson Silva’s Career; and,
–  ‘Broadcaster’ Shamrock says Shields sucks, should leave Strikeforce.

Wow. And we wonder why fighters get a bad wrap by the general public.  Now does this mean I think fighters should only be seen and not heard? Absolutely not!!  The only way the perceptions of fighters and MMA as a whole can change is through the various media channels.  The problem is that many fighters are not marketers.  Their job is to fight and win, not to think about perception or image.  For that reason, I’ve compiled this list of interview Do’s and Don’ts for young fighters who may be getting ready for their first media interview:

  • Do make sure you know the correct name of the editor and the publication that he/she is working for.  If you want to be respected by the media, show them the same amount of respect you want to receive.
  • Do make sure you are cognizant of the amount of time the editor has to spend with you.  You may want to ask up front how much time they have and tailor your meeting accordingly.  You may be the star, but they’ll appreciate the fact that you have them in mind.
  • Do expect to be interrupted with questions when discussing your thoughts on a fight.  Remember, these are casual, informal, give-and-take sessions.  If you are not interrupted with questions, don’t assume that the editor/blogger is not interested.  They could be just absorbed in what you’re saying.
  • Do remember to be patient.  Don’t be rushed, or act pushy.  Although you may be crunched for time, you may not come across the way you want when the story goes to print.
  • Do remember that these meetings are an opportunity to impress key influencers.  Make sure you are adequately prepared, and be enthusiastic and upbeat about your skill sets and your upcoming fight.   A positive article holds the potential for new fans and advertisers alike.
  • Do thank the editors for their time when the meeting is over.  Do encourage them to telephone you, at any time, if they have additional questions.  Make yourself available as an ongoing MMA resource.
  • Don’t be on a Soap Box.  You want to be confident in discussing your fight.  You want to call out any weaknesses you see in your opponent but you need to be respectful.  The longer you talk about how much you don’t like an opponent the more you may push fans to their side of the argument.  Making it personal may help you win the mind game war, but it won’t help you in the long run.
  • Don’t assume anything.  Often times, many editors who seem goofy or quirky are often the most brilliant and talented.  By the same token, someone who acts like a guru is often not one.  Treat everyone equally, with courtesy and respect.
  • Don’t feel compelled to answer every question.  You’ll draw less attention changing the subject than you will pulling your foot from your mouth.
  • Don’t ever say “No comment.”  That statement makes it sound as if you are hiding something.
  • If there is a long pause after you have already answered a question, DO NOT succumb to the urge to fill the “dead air-time” with more words.  You may inadvertently say something you don’t want to see in print.
  • Do not presume that anything is “off the record.”  Whatever you say, either on or off the record, cannot be undone.  If you don’t want it to appear, don’t say anything.
  • Do not discuss your pleasure or dissatisfaction with an interview until you are well out of earshot, and eyeshot, of the people you’ve just met with.

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Comments
  1. […] this year I provided a general tip sheet for media interviews.  The idea behind it was to provide young fighters with some basic do’s and don’ts to make […]

  2. […] is not going away.   Among a multitude of MMA topics, I’ve also written about how to give sound bites and how to respond to public debate.  Why? Because it is clear that not everyone knows how to do […]

  3. […] of the first posts I wrote when I kicked off this blog was “Can I Quote You on That? The Do’s and Don’ts of […]

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