Ace Your Media Relations Interview: 10 Must-Know Questions and How to Answer Them

It does for small and medium-sized businesses that think PR is only important for big companies and businesses

Is it time for you to stop thinking that “PR and marketing are the same”? Give your clients the help their businesses need.

But, hiring an experienced and communication savvy PR isn’t an easy job. Hiring the right people is one of the biggest problems PR agencies face.

Because of this, we’ve put together a list of public relations interview questions that will help you find a PR specialist who has the right skills and values for your company.

You can also look at our list of marketing interview questions to help you hire the best people for your marketing team.

Landing a job in media relations requires more than just a polished resume and perfect credentials. You need to ace the interview by convincingly demonstrating your skills and expertise when fielding questions from potential employers.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore 10 of the most common and critical interview questions for media relations roles along with tips for crafting winning responses.

Whether you’re an aspiring PR pro looking to break into the field or a seasoned communications veteran exploring new opportunities, preparation is key for interview success. Read on to get the inside scoop on how to highlight your media savvy and strategic thinking when the pressure is on.

1. Which PR firms do you admire and why?

This open-ended question aims to reveal your knowledge of the PR industry landscape and gauge your perspective on best practices The interviewer wants to know which agencies you see as leaders in the field and what aspects of their work you find exemplary

Tips for answering:

  • Name 2-3 respected PR firms and explain what impresses you about their work. Highlight specific campaigns or initiatives that stood out to you

  • Discuss aspects like storytelling ability, media relationships, creativity, strategic vision, or use of technology.

  • Share why you find their work impactful and how it has influenced your approach to communications.

  • Convey your ambition to implement similar successful strategies and methods in your own career.

Example response:

“I greatly admire the work of agencies like Edelman and APCO Worldwide. Edelman has done an exceptional job evolving with the digital landscape, leveraging social media and technology in creative ways across their campaigns. APCO impresses me with their strategic counsel and ability to distill complex ideas into compelling narratives. Their meticulous approach to understanding a client’s business needs and audience is something I try to emulate. These firms demonstrate that success in PR requires bold vision coupled with flawless execution.”

2. Which media outlets do you follow?

This question reveals the depth of your interest in the media sphere. Employers want to see that you actively follow industry news, trends, and developments.

Tips for answering:

  • List 3-5 print/online publications or podcasts that help you stay current on media and PR.

  • Include a mix of journalism/PR trade outlets and general news sources.

  • For each source, explain why it’s valuable to you. Is it the analysis? Specific journalists? Content format?

  • Tailor your choices based on the role. A business PR job may value financial publications more.

Example response:

“I closely follow outlets like Editor & Publisher for its analysis of media industry trends, Nieman Journalism Lab for its thoughtful commentary, and PRWeek for staying current on PR best practices. For general news, I read the Wall Street Journal and New York Times daily, as well as listen to NPR. These outlets expose me to exceptional journalism and story formats that inspire my approach to PR strategy and messaging.”

3. Talk about the difference between PR and advertising.

This question tests your understanding of how these two disciplines differ. It’s important to know their unique values and methods.

Tips for answering:

  • Note PR focuses on earned media while advertising pays for space.

  • PR aims to build relationships, trust, and credibility. Advertising promotes a brand through paid ads.

  • PR narratives involve some editorial control. Advertising messages are controlled by the brand.

  • PR targets wider audiences while ads can be highly targeted.

  • Discuss how they complement each other. PR boosts exposure for campaigns.

Example response:

“While PR and advertising can work symbiotically, there are some key differences. Advertising relies on paid ad space to convey branded messages that are wholly controlled by the company. PR focuses on earning favorable media coverage through compelling stories. This earned media carries more credibility with audiences. Skilled PR develops trust and relationships with media outlets and audiences. While ads directly promote products, PR aims to highlight a brand’s value and voice. The role of PR is to secure exposure through credible news sources, which can amplify the impact of advertising campaigns.”

4. How do you choose angles for a story pitch?

The interviewer wants to understand your process for developing story angles and crafting pitches that will resonate with media outlets.

Tips for answering:

  • Explain how you research the media landscape to identify topics of interest.

  • Discuss considering trends, current events, and “news pegs” when developing angles.

  • Share how you aim to find a unique angle not being covered.

  • Highlight that you tailor angles based on specific journalist/outlet interests.

  • Give examples of successful pitches/placements that used compelling angles.

Example response:

“Choosing the right angle requires in-depth research on current topics, emerging trends, and each media outlet’s focus. I tap into my media relationships to understand what resonates. Cultivating a unique angle is key – one that hasn’t been broadly covered but adds a fresh voice to the narrative. For our fintech client’s story, rather than a standard product announcement, we pitched an angle showcasing how AI stands to revolutionize personal finance. This resonated strongly with tech outlets. It requires both creativity and strategic insight to craft angles that captivate media interest.”

5. What media placements are you most proud of?

This allows you to demonstrate your successful track record securing prominent, impactful media placements.

Tips for answering:

  • Choose 2-3 standout examples highlighting different skills/tactics.

  • For each, explain the initial challenge, your approach, and the successful outcome.

  • Quantify the placement’s reach/impact. Mention specific metrics and publication names.

  • Convey strategic thinking, creativity, relationships with journalists, and tenacity.

  • Tie the examples to the role you are interviewing for.

Example response:

“One placement I’m very proud of was a profile of our client, a rapidly growing tech startup, in Fast Company. Given their exclusive focus on innovative companies, they were highly selective. Through my relationship with the editor, I was able to pitch an angle on how the company pioneered AI in their niche market. The story ended up being featured on their homepage and top-trafficked article that week. Additionally, I secured an op-ed for a client in the New York Times by identifying their CMO as an expert voice on sustainability issues. Appearing in the Times lent our client immense credibility.”

6. How would you go about building relationships with journalists?

Media relationships are the lifeblood of PR success. This question reveals your strategy for cultivating and nurturing these vital connections over time.

Tips for answering:

  • Discuss researching journalists to understand their beat, interests, and past articles.

  • Explain the value of following/engaging with them on social media.

  • Share tactics like sharing relevant story ideas, providing article feedback, meeting at events etc.

  • Note the importance of being a trusted, reliable resource vs. just pitching stories.

  • Give examples of key media relationships you’ve built and their impact.

Example response:

“Building strong journalist relationships starts with thoroughly researching their beat, reporting style, and topics covered to understand how to provide value. From there, it’s about consistent engagement – following them on social media, sharing feedback on articles, responding quickly to inquiries. I aim to be a trusted resource, not just someone pitching stories.

One key relationship I’ve built is with a top tech reporter at VentureBeat by regularly providing insights on emerging trends. I’ve become one of her first calls to soundboard stories. She’s shared that she values my perspective and willingness to connect her with contacts. This has led to consistent coverage for clients.”

7. How would you handle a media crisis or negative publicity?

This reveals your ability to stay composed under pressure and mitigate damage

Public Relations Interview Questions to Evaluate Skills and Experience

Not everyone can handle the role of PR. You need to hire someone with the knowledge, skills, and creativity to promote your agency or clients in the media in order to build and keep a good reputation.

Based on our list of skills and experience-based PR interview questions, you can tell if your candidate has what it takes.

“One important trait is the ability to connect with leaders, HR managers, broadcasters, journalists, and owners/editors of digital communication platforms around the world who would be interested in your client’s unique service offering.” We want a PR manager who will make sure that the money they charge is worth it for the business. If they don’t, it will seem like a small price to pay for a lot of publicity. ”.

media relations interview questions

Thomas Mirmotahari, Founder and CEO, PerkUp

  • How important is the brand in your communication strategy?
  • What should you do when bad PR happens because of something you didn’t plan for?
  • Could you give us some examples of valid points of view you’ve used in the past to make successful, unique, and niche pitches for your clients?
  • How often do you check in with the global community to make sure that brands and services are getting enough attention?
  • Have you ever worked with a big budget before? How well did you do at turning that budget into real gains for the company?
  • Here are some of the most creative marketing ideas you’ve come up with for clients or employers in the past.

“I ask general questions to learn more about the applicants and give them a chance to talk more about their personalities and work habits.” My aim is to understand how much they have gathered from their previous experience. It’s an important value indicator for me to gauge a candidate. ”.

media relations interview questions

Adam Crossling, Partner & Marketing manager, Zenzero

  • Could you tell us about a video campaign you worked on?
  • Could you tell us about a print campaign you worked on?
  • Which public relations accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • What skills did you learn at your last job that you could use in this one?
  • Do you have experience working on radio campaigns for public relations?

“First, someone has to be able to write well. If they don’t enjoy it and do it well, the interview is over. Secondly, they have to actually enjoy and use social media–that goes for both consuming and creating. They have to be intuitive to know what their target audience is thinking. They have to be resourceful and have a proven success record. ”.

media relations interview questions

Krista Bernasconi, Founder and CEO, MarketSharePR

  • Are you willing to share links to projects, materials, or account handles that you’ve worked on?
  • Tell me about your proudest PR campaign. What was it that worked for you?.
  • How would you improve our organization’s public relations strategy?
  • What kind of projects and accounts get your juices flowing?

“A PR agent should have the following qualities, dedication, tenacity, intrapersonal skills, and a willingness to achieve results. ‘NO’ is a word that PR agents hear repeatedly from media outlets and journalists. I want to understand how a candidate handles the rejection situation and turn it into a win. ”.

media relations interview questions

Jessica Armstrong, Marketing Associate, TeamUp

  • What would you say to a major news organization that turned down your pitch?
  • How will you get the other people on the marketing team (social, content, and performance) to help with your PR efforts and figure out what you need most to get a news outlet to cover our stories?
  • Tell me about your best achievements as a PR agent.
  • What skills do you believe a PR agent should have, and describe a time when you showed those skills?

“Networking is a big part of being a PR manager, so you should ask candidates if they have a clear plan for making contacts with businesses, community groups, media outlets, and other important people who can help get your company’s message out to the public.” Also, I mostly look at basic skills needed for the job, like being able to manage your time well, get along with others, be creative, and tell a good story. ”.

media relations interview questions

Adelle Archer, Co-Founder & CEO, Eterneva

  • What is your networking strategy?
  • Which media outlets do you check every day?
  • What do you think makes a great story?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you had to deal with difficult stakeholders? How did you handle it?

“I try to dig deep into their past to find out which verticals they’ve done best in, which media relationships they’ve built naturally, and which niches they’re most comfortable working with.” I want to know if they really care about their clients or if they’re just mindless drones who will smile, call, and do the bare minimum without being interested in what their clients have to say. ”.

media relations interview questions

Denise Dorman, Media Relations Director, WhiteBrain Media

  • Outline the campaigns you’ve made from scratch, the best parts of your PR career so far, any awards you’ve won, and the projects you’re most proud of.
  • Which industries are you most familiar with or comfortable pitching?
  • How do you go about getting to know your clients and telling their stories?
  • Tell me about the project management tools, social networks, and media databases that you know how to use.
  • That’s all I have to say about it. I have a female author client whose book is a memoir. On which social platforms would you emphasize publicizing them?.

“I ask questions to find out what kinds of unique work habits and strategies a candidate has used in the past to finish projects.” I want to understand how aligned their PR strategies were with corporate goals and financial objectives. A public relations professional’s main job is to communicate and build relationships. That’s why I like to see how they handle PR crises and how they keep them from happening in the first place. ”.

media relations interview questions

David Wurst, CEO, Webcitz

  • Describe a social media incident that occurred to you. How did you settle the situation?.
  • How are public relations and advertising different?
  • How do you usually track PR campaign results?
  • How do you deal with an aggressive reporter?
  • How do you establish rapport with a new client?
  • How would you handle a large-scale public relations crisis?

“Your most exciting PR ideas can die a painful death if they aren’t spread to the right people and through the right channels.” During the interview, you should find out if the candidate has shown that they know how to use the right PR marketing channel for past clients. ”.

media relations interview questions

Simonas Steponaitis, SEO, Kilo Health

  • What skills did your last job help you develop that you can use in this one?
  • How could you come up with a plan that works for both print and online ads?
  • Let me know about a time when you had to answer a tough question in an interview. What did you do?
  • What is the best way for you to use social media to help your clients?
  • Describe a social media issue you experienced. How did you resolve it?.
  • What’s the difference between public relations and advertising?

What skills do you need for PR?

For a PR professional, it is essential to have the following skills:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent verbal and writing skills
  • Knowledge and research skills
  • Global mindset
  • Work and team management skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Social media skills
  • Creativity
  • Connection with media houses, and agencies

Media Relations Tips: What should your first words be in a media interview?

What if a hiring manager asks about your media experience?

If a hiring manager asks you about your experience conducting media campaigns, they may want to gauge your expertise regarding different types of media relations. For example, if their company focuses on digital public relations, try to highlight your experience with digital media platforms.

Do you ask questions during a media interview?

The replies are rarely complimentary but over the course of the session, delegates learn techniques to build confidence and help them manage their media interviews. However, asking questions is the bread and butter of journalism and it is a journalist’s job to get a story.

What questions do interviewers ask during a PR job interview?

Interviewers often ask in-depth questions to determine your specific work processes and the methods you use to complete your tasks. These types of questions may vary based on the type of PR role to which you’re applying. Some in-depth questions you may answer during an interview for a PR role include:

What does a public relations professional do?

Public relations (PR) professionals manage their clients’ interactions with media personnel to help them create and maintain a positive public reputation. Interviewing for a role in PR may require professionals to discuss their prior work experience and goals for the future.

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