1. Make a plan for the interview.

What would you like to see in the resulting media coverage? What two or three key messages do you want to relay? If you go into an interview and just answer questions without a thought for what you want the audience to know, you yield control of the interview to the journalist. Be prepared and know in advance what your goals are for the interview.

2. Ask the question you want to answer.

Don’t wait for the reporter to ask the question you want to answer. She might not ask it. Instead, segue into the topic you want to discuss. For example:

“What really matters is ______.”

“The most important issue is ______.”

“The more interesting question is ______.”

3. Avoid technical answers.

When you talk above people’s heads, you drive them away. Answer as simply as possible, and without jargon.

4. Stick to what the reporter asks and what you want to say.

There’s no need to volunteer additional information. This goes back to planning what your goals are for the interview. You should know what you’d like to communicate from the start, and stick to that information as much as possible. More is not better; answer questions briefly. When you give long-winded answers, you give the journalist the power to choose which parts of your answer to use and omit.

5. If you don’t know the answer, just say so.

There’s nothing wrong with saying you don’t know, that there hasn’t been decision yet or that you aren’t sure of the answer and will report back

6. Don’t say “no comment.”

There are very few exceptions to this rule. When you say “no comment,” you almost always look like you’re hiding something. Anticipate difficult questions, and plan an answer that won’t hurt you. It’s your PR team’s job to prep for such questions, with your input, of course.

7. Don’t repeat a negative question.

There’s no reason to needlessly hurt yourself by repeating a negative question. Simply answer it briefly and bridge to what you want to say.

8. Watch for “gotcha questions.”

Gotcha questions are loaded questions that paint you negatively no matter how you answer. The trick is to answer as briefly as possible, and create a bridge from the negative question to the message you want to convey.

For example, say a reporter asks, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” Answer with, “I never started.”Think about it: If you answer, “I didn’t beat my wife,” the headline could easily be, “X denies beating his wife.” This is also an example of why you don’t want to repeat something negative.

9. Have facts to back up your points.

If you can provide facts and cite the sources, you’ll sound much more credible.

10. Don’t ask to approve the story before it’s published.

This will make you look unprofessional. Journalists will sometimes fact-check information with you, so you can volunteer to be available for any further questions or fact-checks if the journalist wishes.