A contributor on the cosmetic science forum alerted me to a story in which I was quoted about the biology of gray hair. I appreciated finding out about it because the reporter didn’t tell me that it where it was going to be published. Then it occurred to me that it would be helpful for cosmetic chemists to know how to interact with reporters, radio, tv and other media people. So, here are some tips that I’ve picked up over the years.
Get questions in writing
Reporters typically don’t want you to “prepare” for an interview as they look for spontaneous answers. But when you are answering questions about complicated scientific topics, it’s always better to have a list of questions in front of you. This will help build your confidence in the responses you know off the top of your head and will also give you a chance to quickly look something up if you aren’t sure.
Don’t make things up
Just because a reporter sends you a list of questions that doesn’t mean they won’t have other questions. If you are unsure about an answer, it is better to say “I’m not sure about that, let me look it up,” than to make something up. Remember, what you tell them will likely be put up on the web or in a magazine and that can last for a long time.
Get your message out
While reporters are interviewing you for their story, be sure to get something out of the interaction for yourself. Ideally, you will have some kind of message you are trying to communicate. Work this into your answers. Even if the question is only tangentially related to a message you want to spread, steer the answer to your message.
Know how to be attributed
Reporters will often ask you how you want to be attributed. If you are a cosmetic chemist consultant, then you’ll want to come up with some title like ‘independent cosmetic chemist’ or ‘cosmetic formulator’ or something. If you work for a company, you frequently will have to have the attribution go to your company.
Get a link included
Incidentally, if you have a website and the story is being written for the web be sure to ask for them to put a link to your website. This is particularly important for bloggers and cosmetic chemist consultants. Whenever I am quoted I always try to get a link to Chemists Corner.
Get a link for the article
Speaking of links, be sure to tell the reporter to alert you to the link for the article. You can then use this link in marketing materials for your consulting services, on your LinkedIn page or on your own media page. Links like this help establish you as an expert and lead to even more contacts.
Keep a list of reporter contacts
And while we’re on the subject of contacts, be sure to keep a list of all the reporters and media contacts that you make. When you have some project you want to publicize these are the people who can (and will) help you do that. If you are helpful to them, they are almost always helpful to you. Just be sure that when you pitch a new story to them, it is interesting and worthwhile to them.
Publicize your article
It’s not often that you get quoted so let your friends and family know. Encourage them to comment on the article too. This will help drive traffic to the web page and may help lead to other opportunities for you. Post the link to your LinkedIn page, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
You will be misquoted
Finally, be ready to be misquoted. Try as they might, reporters often don’t understand exactly what you are saying and you may be misquoted. This isn’t the end of the world but it can make you feel a bit uncomfortable if you aren’t ready for it. Don’t worry, all publicity is good publicity so even if the quote is a little (or a lot) off it’s more important that you got quoted.
Got any more media tips? Leave a comment below.