The key to any successful media interview is learning to stay on your messaging. If you wrap an interview on a morning TV news show in your city and realize you didn't get to your main talking points, it's a wasted opportunity.
It's easy to get thrown off message. Here's how...
- The morning show host doesn't ask the questions you anticipated.
- You get very nervous when the cameras roll.
- You keep getting interrupted.
- You make a mistake in answering the first question, and you dwell on that instead of focusing on your responses to the next questions.
- You are distracted by something going on in the studio.
- A producer is talking to you (via your earpiece/IFB) while you are speaking.
- You are self conscious about your physical appearance.
With some practice you can avoid some of these pitfalls and learn how to handle the rest. This is your shot at presenting your best self to an audience of potential new client or customers. Why leave it to chance?
Some quick interview preparation tips:
- Conduct a mock interview with a professional media consultant, a trusted friend or a brutally honest family member.
- Think logically about what you might be asked. Watch the show a few times before you appear to get a feel for what kinds of interviews are typically done. Does the Anchor toss guests "soft balls" or is she a tough interviewer?
- The Producer doesn't see the segment as a free ad for you. If you try to make it one, the Anchor may interrupt you. Make sure you are providing the audience with some value as well as trying to draw attention to your company.
- Mistakes happen. If it's a big one that will impact your business, correct yourself gracefully later in the interview. If you just fluffed a word or two, relax. Even media professionals do it.
- Learn to bridge back to one of your talking points regardless of the question you are asked. Example: the Anchor asks you a question about a competitor who is in hot water. Don't get dragged into their mess. Try responding, "I don't know the circumstances so I really cannot answer that specific question. What I can tell your audience is that my firm leads the way on..."
- If you have a case of nerves, try deep breathing exercises just before you go on set. During the interview, visualize that you are talking to a friend--that it's a conversation not an inquisition.
- Train for in-studio interruptions by practicing until you know you are comfortable even if a prop drops on set or someone is talking loudly off-set.
- When a producer talks to you via an IFB, he may be just trying to get you to wrap it up. Or, he meant to speak to the Anchor and hit your IFB switch by mistake. If you are distracted to the point of messing up, try saying this on air, "I'm sorry I was distracted. Someone is talking in my ear." That will generally get their attention in the control room.
- Remember your messaging is far more important than how you look. There are tips on dressing for TV and best makeup tips. Those are easy to learn. I have had clients (men and women) so consumed with their weight or wrinkles that it gets in their way. You have to get out of your head on this.
We'll bring you more media tips in our next post. And if you're interested in private media training, consider our virtual one-hour sessions.