You received a call from a local newspaper reporter. They are interested in learning more about your business. You have butterflies in your tummy, anxiety, and fear. What happens if you can’t handle the product orders? How do you prepare for a newspaper interview?
Let’s examine what you need to do step-by-step.
Do not agree to an interview unless you are sure of the message you want to convey. Ask yourself, “Is this the best medium for my product?” Has the newspaper carried articles about these food products in the past? If not, why is it important to them now?
Not all press is good press
You have every right to ask what the reporter will focus on and why and what type of questions will be asked. If the interview questions shift erratically during the interview, reign the reporter back and focus on your business. (This is best if the interview is not live or recorded.)
Before you begin, consider how this article could be helpful to your business and its mission. Then, think about whom you want to sway. Who is your target market? Is it the same as the folks that will read this article?
Use your goals to determine your “message.” Throughout the interview, you want a clear theme to develop. That’s your “message.”
You should already have an elevator pitch and be ready to tell your story. If you prepared a YouTube video, or if you have a blog, share that information with the reporter.
A seasoned reporter will think of the interview and the story as theirs. Thus, they want to tell the story their way. Of course, there will be a certain degree of tension between any good reporter and the interviewee (that’s you). It’s your job (as the business owner) to get your points across as effectively as possible. You must also maintain a mutually respectful relationship. This is a story that will benefit both you and the reporter. Play nice. Stay calm and tell the truth. Never embellish.
A word about telling the truth.
Does the reporter know you operate a home-based food business? Is the reporter familiar with the Cottage Food Laws? What about the foods that can be produced in a home kitchen? How about foods that must be produced in a commercial kitchen?
Avoid reporting that you make foods that are not on the approved cottage food list. You never know who is watching the interview or who might report you for preparing food not approved. The goal is to let the public know you operate a legitimate Cottage Food Operation. These items are not on your approved cottage food list. You don’t want to risk being called out due to making non-approved food products.
Never assume reporters and media organizations know anything about what you do. It is your responsibility to inform, to educate the reporter. When asked where you’re located or how clients order from you, tell the truth. and make sure you are operating within the rules and regulations set by your State Cottage Food Law/Rule.
You may want to run through your story and the information about your business with a friend or family member. Remember, the old saying, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” Prepare, prepare, prepare.