Handling Interviews

How to prepare for an interview, best practices for conducting yourself while on the record, and tips for following up.

Table of Contents

Types of Interviews

Tips to Guide Your Interview

Types of Interviews

Before agreeing to interviews, we want to have a clear understanding of whether the journalist is adversarial, neutral, or positive towards our work, and mainly focus on journalists who are neutral to positive. It’s important to research the journalist in advance to understand their stance, and to focus on journalists’ whose work we like so we know they will do the story justice.


Accept interviews with caution, if at all. Interviewing with the opposition opens up more opportunities for them to try to trip us up, seize on out-of-context sound bites, and drive the narrative from their viewpoint. If you decide to proceed, prepare specific, well-planned points that cannot be easily taken out of context or used against us. See DxE’s tips for handling difficult interviews.


Most interviews will likely fall under this category. These types of interviews should almost always be accepted, as they present the best opportunity to reach persuadable voters. Focus talking points on popular views such as compassion for animals, environmental welfare, and workers’ rights.


These interviews are with journalists who are already on our side, and thus likely for audiences who already agree with us. These should be embraced as relationship-building or recruiting opportunities.

Tips to Guide Your Interview

Preparing for an Interview

  1. Research all outlets & journalists before committing to an interview with them. You want to have a clear understanding of who is conducting the interview, and what their goals may be with the interview so you can be prepared.

  2. Request the interview questions in advance so you can prepare your answers and weave in the specific talking points you’d like to include.

  3. Provide a written rather than verbal statement where possible with more adversarial journalists.

  4. Review key campaign talking points. No matter how familiar you may be with campaign talking points, it’s always a good idea to review the core campaign narratives and consider how you can directly speak to these as you answer questions. Practice speaking in relatively short sentences.

  5. Always be ready to give a statement. If you’re attending an event at which media may be present, assign and prepare a media liaison or interviewee, and instruct other attendees to send the media to this person if asked questions. Prepare some general responses to common press questions that can get you ready for any impromptu press interviews.

During the Interview

  1. Assume you’re on the record. The time you spend talking to the journalist before and after the interview is still on the record. Don’t get too comfortable in a casual conversation with a journalist, as it could be quoted out of context.

  2. Use concise, emotional statements. Journalists can find the facts themselves, but they can’t speak to others’ feelings around the issue. Brief, emotional statements will help to create sound bites for the journalist to use. Prepare some of these in advance as best you can in anticipation of certain questions.

  3. Wait for an invitation to elaborate. Try to answer questions in just a few sentences, and wait to be asked for an explanation instead of diving right into your justification. Otherwise, you may come across as defensive or lose track of your main point.

  4. Take time to think. When asked a tough question, it’s ok to not have an immediate response and to take a moment to think it over. Nod your head to acknowledge the question and show you’re thinking, and try to avoid fidgeting. Speak at a slow, calm pace to project clarity and confidence, while also having more time to think.

  5. Don’t feel the need to answer all questions. If you feel unprepared to answer a question or feel that it’s not relevant, try to acknowledge what was asked while pivoting to what you want to talk about (“That’s an interesting question, but what’s important here is…”). You can always follow up on the question after the interview once you’ve had time to think it through.

    • For example, if asked about concerns related to the economy if slaughterhouses are banned, you could say something like:

“That’s an interesting question, but what’s important here is creating a humane economy. Slaughterhouse workers have 4x higher rates of depression. There are 2 amputations in slaughterhouses every week in the U.S. In 50 years, our local economy will be far better off for having done away with this traumatic industry. At Pro-Animal Future, we advocate for safe, healthy, animal-friendly jobs for all. ”

After an Interview

  1. Follow up with your final thoughts. Following the interview, send the journalist a quick thank you, along with a concise summary of the main points you want to leave them with. You can also use this as an opportunity to clarify any statements that may have come across wrong, or to correct any misinformation.

  2. Update press list notes. If the interview went well and the coverage is positive, be sure to note this in your press list and continue to nurture your relationship with this journalist. In that same vein, be sure to note any journalists who we don’t care to work with again.

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