So, You Are Going to Be Interviewed on TV – Now What?
Congratulations, you have landed that elusive television media interview. However, the world is coping with the impacts of a global pandemic and most of us are practicing social distancing, so that interview is probably going to be remote via Cisco Webex, Skype, Zoom or a similar platform.
How do you prepare for the interview to ensure success? Is your preparation different given that the interview is remote? Well, yes and no. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Be Flexible
Flexibility should be your rule of thumb for all media interviews because we generally need the media much more than they need us so a willingness to do the interview when a journalist prefers is important. Reporters have hundreds of stories they can do on any given day and just as many expert sources they can turn to on any given topic. Juggling multiple interviews and stories was not an easy task before COVID-19, and the scheduling pressures journalists face have only intensified since the coronavirus outbreak began, so flexibility is of increasing importance.
Our goal in being flexible is not to just land this one interview, but to develop your reputation as a media friendly organization that is accommodating to the press, as long as the media opportunity fits company goals to build awareness for your brand and expertise. We want to create that snowball effect – roll that snowball in the snow and watch it grow. Our goal is to have success with this media opportunity and keep this media outlet, and others who see the coverage, coming back for more.
2. Key Message & Sound Bites
Be prepared. You need to know your key message going into any media interview, but this is especially true with broadcast media. What is the one key takeaway message you want the audience to remember? That message should be a short easily remembered sentence. Before your interview, prepare “sound bites,” or concise statements, that support your key message and can be easily remembered. If the interview seems to be drifting from your key message, use these talking points to get the interview back on track.
“For taped interviews, editors often cut interviewees’ remarks down to several seconds,” notes the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which offers great resources for communicating about science, engineering and innovation. “A typical sound bite is eight to 15 seconds. A long radio story is 45 seconds and a typical TV story is about 80 seconds.”
The sound bites you create are important for this reason. If an editor does cut and splice your interview, you don’t want your key message to be lost. Assuming the interview is not live, as your interviewer is wrapping up, if they do not ask if there is anything further you would like to add, interject one more thought and use that time to reinforce your key message.
3. Look Your Best
That doesn’t mean your most expensive suit. For clothing, blocks of color are better than patterns. Simple, dark tops will look the best on video.
Make sure your computer camera is at your eye level or slightly above by using a computer stand or a sturdy stack of books as that will provide the most attractive video as opposed to a camera that is looking at you from below. The goal is to have the camera positioned so the computer screen shows a couple inches of space above your head. Clean your camera lens before the interview and remember to look directly at the camera lens during the interview not at the person asking the questions, which is our natural inclination during a video conference.
Select a room that has balanced lighting, preferably natural light that is in front of you. If you have to use a room that is a bit dark, consider adding a light behind your monitor to help brighten things up. Try to use a background that is not distracting.
4. Prepare Your Technology
In a remote interview world, your technology rules the day:
Check your internet connection to make sure your system is operating optimally. Generally, a computer hard-wired with an ethernet connection will produce the best results.
If you are new to the videoconferencing platform you will be using during the interview, test it out by calling a friend.
Computer feedback on a videoconference interview can ruin the opportunity so if you have wireless headphones, use them as they will produce the best audio. AirPods are a great investment if you expect multiple interviews as they are unobtrusive and produce great sound quality.
Finally, let the family know you are going to be interviewed on television and to keep the noise to a gentle roar if possible. Best of luck with your newfound TV stardom and please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (908) 425-4878 if you have any questions.