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In this series, I’m offering a few tips on preparing for interviews with newspaper reporters, radio and television interviews. Today, we’ll discuss how you can best prepare for a newspaper or magazine interview during your run for office.

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I have a list of rules that I share with clients.

  1. Read a few stories the reporter has written.
  2. Inventory the people they often quote.
  3. Talk to candidates they have interviewed.
  4. Ask for the Ground Rules of the interview.
  5. Never say “no comment.”
  6. Never Lie to a Reporter. Ever.

How to Run for Office-- Surviving a Tough Newspaper Interview 2

In this day and age when Google searches are easy and quickly done, there is no excuse for not knowing the reporter you are talking to and the kind of questions you are likely to get. Not just their background, or schools they attended…reading the stories they have written will familiarize you with their writing style, investigative methods and their area of expertise.

Look for people they frequently quote in their stories—otherwise known as sources… those are the people the reporter turns to to understand the subject they are writing about, or to reinforce their own point of view. Sometimes you can influence what a reporter writes through one of their sources.

Google the names of candidates they interviewed to see if there were complaints about the reporter, or the accuracy of quotes. Did the reporter honor rules like ‘off the record,’ or ‘on background?’

When you speak with other candidates the reporter has interviewed, get their take on the professionalism of the journalist and their line of questioning.

Know the purpose of the interview and how much time the reporter wants. For example, if the reporter is asking for an hour long sit down interview, then you can expect that you’ll be asked a wide array of questions, and that any answer you give may be challenged in follow-up questions. If the time requested is short and the topic specific, then make sure you have your facts and homework together about the topic in question before you return the call.

Be mindful that they have deadlines, and lives outside of their profession.  You are more likely to be given the chance to respond to an allegation if you take the reporter’s deadline seriously.

Why avoid the ‘no comment’ response? To the reader, a candidate who says no comment in response to an allegation is guilty as charged.

The reason for the no lie rule should be self evident. Nothing good will come of that. If you do, it will come back to haunt you. Once you have lied to a reporter, most reporters will feel an obligation to let their readers know you have trouble with the truth.

I’ll be back soon with some more tips about running for office. Subscribe to My YouTube channel. You will be notified of new videos as they go live.

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Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.

How to win an election:

Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.

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