At Allen Media Strategies, we always coach our clients never to use insider terms for their area of expertise when doing media interviews. The goal is to make your message go down easy for the end user. My friend Dave, a long time broadcaster, public speaker and communications expert, has “big words fancy talker” printed […]
So, after doing extensive work in the background, you’ve successfully marketed yourself to the media, and now a television or radio station is interested in interviewing you…congratulations! It’s up to you give the best possible interview you can.
We advise our clients to “own the experience” and really knock the ball out of the park whenever they do an interview. The better you do, the more likely you’ll be asked back for subsequent appearances. In this day of instant information sharing, great performances often get bicycled around on the internet to other media producers, who are much more apt to extend an interview invitation to you if you do a terrific job. And, you’ll be proud to use that interview clip for your own self promotion purposes on your website and in social networking.
1. Write down the three to five main points you want to cover, and look for opportunities to work them in whenever possible to the fabric of your interview conversation. Memorize those talking points, and especially on television, don’t refer to your note cards.
2. Include short stories and/or humor to help you make your important points. This will help you to come across as more approachable and down-to-earth. Tailor your humor and the length of your short stories to the particular media outlet’s target audience. Are they younger or older? Conservative or liberal? Urban or rural?
3. Anticipate the questions interviewers are likely to ask and prepare answers that include your main points. Study the host’s prior interviews to find their favorite questions, approaches and interview style (soft, friendly, confrontational) so you’ll know what to expect and how to respond in most instances.
4. Keep your answers simple and short. Complex, lengthy answers tend to bore and oftentimes confuse audiences. Also, research has shown that a lengthy cadence of just one voice, even if it’s yours, will tend to facilitate audience tuneout.
5. Your job is to make the interviewer look good, while getting your main points across. Don’t try to upstage or belittle the interviewer, no matter how silly or off-the-wall their questions may sound to you. You are a guest on their program, and as such, should act accordingly.
6. Practice your interviewee skills by having friends or family members pretend they’re the interviewer and question you as if you’re being interviewed live. Practice both telephone and in person interviews to prepare for radio interviews. Work with a stopwatch, so that you can get used to tailoring your answers to fit within the allotted length of your media appearance. The less time on air you have, the more crucial it is to hit those short sound byte type answers. The longer the interview, the more important it is to continue to revisit the main talking points/themes you need to cover (including in most cases your contact information). That’s because there is a constant coming-and-going phenomenon in electronic media. Many viewers and listeners will miss part of your interview, and if they come in late, you want to make sure they know who you are, what you’re talking about and how to get in touch with you.
7. When you practice, videotape and audiotape yourself to observe and critique your performance. Be conscious of your posture, facial expressions and gestures for in person interviews, and your articulation, speech rate, fluency and inflection for radio phone interviews.
An Actual Aircheck Demo Critique
An Allen Media Strategies client recently received a thorough critique from our office of an on- air audition demo; this client will then use these notes to improve their on-air presentation. We’ve edited our critique and presented the universally relevant notes below as a general checklist to improve your performance before you go on the air:
- You need to increase the pacing of your delivery by at least two steps to captivate the listener; a down-tempo delivery will make you sound bored…and the listener will be bored as well.
- Add some passion to your delivery; be somewhat evangelical in your presentation; think of the SportsCenter hosts on ESPN…they’re passionate about sports and that enthusiasm jumps out in their delivery. Aggressively ‘court’ your listeners.
- Come up with one unique, compelling topic and get right into it. All your talking points should support that one theme. Make it something that’s unique and compelling to the stations target listener…and you’ll get extra points for something topical/newsworthy and “of the moment”.
- Be careful not to make your on-air presentation sound like an infomercial for yourself; Your on-air time should instead show you as a catalyst to stimulate listeners by acting as a presenter of interesting entertainment and information. You then direct them to your website or toll-free phone number and sell them there.
- Be sure not to sound like you’re reading. Think ‘Spontaneous Preparation’. In other words, know what you’re going to say, but make it sound like it’s off the top of your head.
Radio Marketing Tool
If you plan to do media appearances that target radio, you’ll need efficient ways of contacting stations to try to secure bookings. One company that can assist you is The Radio Mall. They can provide electronic databases of stations, peel and stick mailing labels for stations, email and fax marketing services to stations and more.
Take a look at http://radio-mall.com/radiomal.htm
Media and Marketing Weekend Workshop
Several AMS clients have expressed interest in a reasonably priced, intensive weekend workshop/seminar here in the Media Capitol of the World, Washington, DC. The event would include actual radio and TV in-studio, on-camera and telephone interview experience, professional photo shoots, press kit assembly, tours of top media facilities, strategies on how to land, and then maximize interviews and other hands-on learn by doing.
If this is something that you’d like more information on, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Reston, VA 20191