How to Decline a Media Interview Politely: A Guide

Media interviews offer a valuable opportunity to build profile for your organisation and for you. It is an unique opportunity to share your message/s and reach a wider audience. Politicians and company leaders see media as a powerful tool for establishing or maintaining credibility and connecting with stakeholders. However, there are times when you may need to decline a media interview politely. Whether it’s due to reputational conflicts, scheduling conflicts, sensitive nature of the topic, or simply not being the right fit or part of your agenda, it’s essential to handle the situation with professionalism and grace. Here are some tips on how to decline a media interview politely:

Step 1: Express Gratitude.

Start by thanking the interviewer for the opportunity. Acknowledge their interest in having you as a guest or interviewee, and express your appreciation for their consideration.

Step 2:  Be Honest.

If the reason for declining is due to a scheduling conflict or another commitment, be honest about it. You can also advise the media that you are not the appropriate person to do the interview and offer up other suggestions (internally or externally). It’s perfectly acceptable to say that you are unable to accommodate the interview at this time. If the subject matter is your own crisis, this needs a specialist strategy to protect damage to you or your organisation by refusing an interview or making a comment.

Step 3: Explain Your Decision (If Appropriate).

If there are specific reasons why you are declining the interview, such as the topic not aligning with your expertise or the current focus of your work, you can politely explain this to the interviewer. However, keep your explanation concise and professional.

See the following for some examples of declining an interview and scripts for what to say to decline it.

Step 4: Offer Alternatives (If Possible). 

If you are declining the interview due to scheduling issues, you can offer alternative dates or times when you might be available. This shows that you are still interested in engaging with the media (if that fits in with your strategy and agenda), despite the current constraints.

Step 5: Maintain a Positive Tone.

Throughout your communication, be it on the phone, in person or by email, maintain a positive and respectful tone. Even if you are declining the interview, it’s important to leave a good impression and keep the door open for future opportunities.

Step 6: End on a Positive Note.

Conclude your message by thanking the interviewer once again for the opportunity and expressing your hope for potential collaboration in the future. This leaves the conversation on a positive and open-ended note.


Reasons To Decline An Interview

There are several reasons why you might choose to do so, and it all depends on your specific situation. Don’t fret!

It is okay to decline a media interview for several reasons:

  1. Sometimes, you may have prior commitments or a busy schedule that makes it impossible to accommodate the interview.
  2. If the interview topic or format does not align with your expertise, values, or goals, it may be more beneficial to decline and allow someone else who is a better fit to take the opportunity.
  3. There may be times when the topic of the interview is sensitive or controversial, and you may not feel comfortable or prepared to address it publicly. This is a case when media training beforehand is essential to avoid reputational damage.
  4. There could be personal reasons, such as health issues or family commitments, that make it necessary to decline the interview.
  5. Declining a media interview can also be a strategic decision. For example, you may want to wait for a more opportune moment to discuss a particular topic or to align the interview with a larger campaign or announcement.

Overall, it is important to consider the potential impact of accepting or declining a media interview and to make the decision that aligns best with your goals and values.

Graceful Declines: Examples of Politely Turning Down a Media Interview

Example 1 – Scheduling Conflict:

“Thank you for reaching out to me for an interview. I appreciate the opportunity. However, due to prior commitments, I’m unable to accommodate the interview at this time. I hope we can revisit this in the future.”

Example 2 – Topic Misalignment:

“Thank you for considering me for the interview. While I find the topic intriguing, I’m afraid it doesn’t align with my current areas of focus. I believe there may be others who would be better suited to discuss this topic. I wish you the best with your piece.”

Example 3 – Not the Right Fit:

“Thank you for your interest in interviewing me. After careful consideration, I’ve realised that I may not be the best fit for this particular interview. I believe there are others who could provide more valuable insights on the topic. I hope you understand.”

Example 4 – Sensitive Nature of the Topic:

“Thank you for the interview invitation. While I appreciate the opportunity, I must respectfully decline due to the sensitive nature of the topic. I feel it would be best for someone with more expertise in this area to provide insights. Thank you for your understanding.”

Example 5 – General Decline:

“Thank you for considering me for the interview. I’m grateful for the opportunity. However, after careful consideration, I’ve decided to decline at this time. I hope we can collaborate on a different topic in the future.”

Declining a media interview politely is an important skill that can help you maintain positive relationships with media professionals. 

By following these tips, you can navigate these situations with professionalism and grace.

Communication & Media Manoeuvres offers media training and interview techniques for executives. Having a good media spokesperson on your team can make all the difference in your company’s reputation.

If you’re interested in learning more about our training programs for spokespersons and media, feel free to get in touch with us. You can do this by visiting our “Contact Us” page or by messaging Sam Elam on LinkedIn. We’ll get back to you promptly.

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