The world as we know is a world constructed by the media, so it is very important for every athlete – especially an emerging one – to know how to build on his media image. Being successful in public appearances can improve a player’s rating; just like bad media exposure can badly damage it. Which are the basic things everybody should know when faced with their very first interview?
It can all happen very quickly: sometimes it only takes one goal, assist or even just one magical touch of the ball to be noticed by somebody. It doesn’t need to be the biggest national newspaper – a good first step is if you are recognized inside your local community. But even if the first interview is not something you might consider a “big thing” – think again. It may well be the piece of text every journalist, you talked to during your career, will read when searching for interesting data about you.
So, how to deal with the media? Here are five quick tips to make things easier.
1. Be prepared
As previously stated, media attention usually comes with a reason. That means that a journalist will almost surely contact you after you have done something out of the ordinary. It doesn’t mean it was a good thing, but – luckily – in sport it mostly is. So when this rare, but golden opportunity comes, try to make the best of it. Before the interview (especially when you have enough time), think hard about the things you have always wanted to tell the world around you, but didn’t get the chance. Now is your time! Try to say something interesting to the public. Maybe make a list of the things (either literally or at least in your head) you would like to say on the interview – so that your words will make sense.
2. Don’t get over excited
Keep calm. Most likely your first interview will not be a big one, so this is not something to lose your head over it. It is nice to imagine yourself in the media – a lot of people dream about it – but it is really not that special. You are not a celebrity once you are asked for your first interview. It should just be a small sign that you are on a good way. Know that there is still a long way to go!
3. Be cooperative and keep your promises
Do your best to be cooperative with the journalist when arranging the interview (if it is not directly after a game) and do not turn up late or not answer the phone at the arranged time. If you really can’t make it (for any reason), let the journalist know. Sending a text is OK, but a call is even better. If you have a good reason, it really shouldn’t be a problem. But don’t expect for a third chance after you skipped the first two appointments without a good reason …
4. Everybody makes (grammar) mistakes
A lot of people are very afraid of making grammar mistakes when speaking to a journalist. Don’t worry! Odds are you will not be speaking “live”, so everything can be repeated over and over (in case of and audio or video interview) if you like. When giving an interview to the press, the journalist will correct your grammar mistakes himself. Everybody makes those kind of mistakes and nobody knows that better than the journalists.
5. And the most important thing …
Just take it easy and be yourself.
That is what journalists (and the audience) like.