Interview tips for business owners – how to talk to the press

I’ve been fortunate to be able to interview hundreds of cleaning businesses and share their stories here. Most of the time, I’m awed and delighted by the tales—I’ve laughed at hilarious recaps of things experienced in the field, teared up at emotional stories, and generally been inspired by all the amazing successes these small cleaning companies have achieved. Family-run businesses power our communities and keep the world running smoothly.  

But sometimes I’ll run across a business owner who isn’t quite sure what to say to me, who gives one word answers that are slightly hostile and the interview goes off the rails. To prevent that, and to give some guidance for when you tap into your local media to spread the word about your business, I wanted to share some tips on how to talk to the press— how to tell your story—for those out there who haven’t ever dealt with an interview or media inquiry.

  1. Stories are powerful. Think about what makes you different. Are you an immigrant? Don’t be afraid of sharing what motivated you to move to this country and start your own business. Your personal story is a lot more interesting than you might give it credit. Practice telling your story ahead of time by telling friends and family who you are and what your business is all about.
  2. Be open to questions. If you’ve never given an interview, you probably will have to be prompted a bit to get your story out. Try to answer questions as openly and honestly as possible. You might be surprised to hear what comes out of your mouth—did your fourth-grade teacher’s proclamation that you wouldn’t amount to much make you determined to succeed? Was the nugget for your business idea buried way back in something you’ve been passionate about since you were able to walk and talk?
  3. Give us the details! Personal details are what humans are most interested in. We don’t really care that much that you’re “currently running a successful business”. We ARE interested to hear that your first job earned you $1.60/hour but then you were able to create a million dollar cleaning business.
  4. Be yourself and be natural. Don’t be ashamed of your passions even if they have nothing to do with running your cleaning business. I’ve spoken to owners who go to Vegas for darts tournaments, make art or DJ on weekends, or are avid nature lovers. All of your passions contribute to round out the image of you as a real person and to make people want to do business with you.
  5. “Soundbites” are gold. Whenever I’m interviewing someone and they give me a particularly great response about green cleaning or delighting their clients, I know I’m going to quote them verbatim. If you prepare a few stock lines ahead of time about what your business does that sets you apart, you won’t stress as much about making sure your storyline comes across.

These are just a few tips to help you loosen up and speak to the media about your cleaning business. If you’re interested in having an article written about your company, please let us know!

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