After pitching news stations, reporters and producers, you finally landed your first TV interview! Having the opportunity to speak on television is a great way to tell your story in front of a large audience and is certainly worth celebrating. But before you commemorate your achievement, understand that preparing for the interview is just as essential as landing the interview in the first place.
Without adequate preparation, viewers quickly forget about you or worse: perceive you and your business negatively simply because you didn’t plan or practice enough. A public relations agency knows how to transform spokespeople with little to no media training into exciting, attention-grabbing and informative interviewees.
As seasoned public relations experts, we’ve compiled a few of the most essential tips for pulling of a fantastic on-camera interview.
PRACTICE TALKING POINTS
We’ve all seen those TV interviews gone bad before. The interviewee is ready to go. They’re nicely dressed, makeup done and hair ready but the second the camera turns on and the reporter begins to ask questions, they can’t remember the well-thought-out answer they imagined in their head.
Effective media training is essential for preparing and executing a great interview. Many public relations professionals, including several of us here at The Vox Agency, are former journalists and can anticipate the types of questions you may be asked. It’s imperative to not only come up with a list of potential questions before an interview, but also practice your answers beforehand. A good publicist will also develop all potential combative, hardball questions you could be asked. The best scenario is to walk away from the interview feeling prepared and empowered; the worst scenario is being asked a hard question on camera you didn’t see coming.
IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER, BE HONEST
On occasion, there will be questions you may not know the answer to. Sometimes if a situation is still developing, an acceptable answer is, “Thank you for asking that question. Let me get right back to you.” The one response to never give on camera if it can be avoided: “no comment.”
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
Professional dress is great for your brand’s image but wearing distracting jewelry and flashy clothing takes the attention away from what you have to say and puts it on what you are wearing. Instead, stick to solid color clothing and avoid wearing white, as well as jewelry that moves or makes noise. If you wear a tie, be cognizant of its pattern. When deciding what shirt to wear, keep in mind a microphone will be clipped to you. We also advise against wearing any logos on your clothing unless it belongs to your company. Entrepreneur shares additional tips on how to dress properly if you’re in front of the camera.
REHEARSE ON CAMERA BEFOREHAND
If you’ve never been on camera or have never been interviewed by a journalist before, it can be very intimidating. Perhaps the nervousness you’re feeling is causing you to anxiously play with your hair or continuously shift in your chair on camera. Or maybe you’re not even aware your regular speech includes the words: um, like and uhhh. There’s nothing more agonizing to watch than an interviewee repeating the word “like” multiple times throughout an interview. If you record yourself ahead of time and replay the video, you’ll catch subconscious behaviors that take away from what you have to say.
BE ENTHUSIASTIC AND GENUINE
As a brand spokesperson, if you’re not enthusiastic there’s no way your audience is going to find your product or service interesting. If you aren’t excited yourself, how do you expect a future customer to get excited? Being energetic and smiling on camera will make the interview more memorable. At the same time, there’s no need to change your voice or tenor while being interviewed. Viewers can sense when you’re being genuine and authentic versus being overly formal or too proper if that’s not your natural personality.
PATIENCE IS APPRECIATED
If a TV crew is coming to your location, be prepared to have furniture moved around to properly set up lighting equipment. To get the best camera shot, photo frames or other distractions in the background may need to be temporarily taken down. It’s also helpful to know where your outlets are so crews can quickly plug in their equipment. Also note, your interview may be interrupted for several reasons including planes flying, car horns blaring or background chatter, therefore be patient and repeat your answer if needed. If your interview is virtual, the reporter may see your background via Zoom and ask for you to shift to another room with a different background and/or natural light. For more insight on how to set up your space for perfect video lighting, TechSmith shares additional tips.
Imagine this scenario: the reporter asks a question, you answer it and then… silence. Some reporters utilize this trick when they are looking for you to give a specific soundbite they didn’t hear in your initial answer. Many interviewees will suddenly feel compelled to fill the silence with unrehearsed answers or worse: begin to nervously speak. When you give your full answer, stop. Let the pause pass. The reporter will inevitably move on to the next question.
KNOW WHAT WILL MAKE IT ON AIR
Despite the great amount of work both you and the reporter put into preparing for the interview, not everything you say will make it on the air. At the end of an interview, it’s not uncommon for a journalist to ask, “Is there anything else you’d like to add?” Using this time to thank sponsors or promote another aspect of your business that isn’t relevant to the story will be cut. Keep in mind, reporters typically only have one to two minutes to tell your business’ complex story while meeting deadlines, verifying information and editing footage.
Now that you have a better idea about the fundamentals of media training and what makes a well-prepared interviewee, it may be time to dive in deeper about specific talking points that make your interview stand out from the rest.
With the right preparation, knowledge of the local media and proper presentation, an on-camera interview opportunity will become your chance to spread your message to the masses.
We’re here to offer additional advice and guidance. For more help pitching your news to the media, preparing for a TV interview and knowing what to say to positively promote your brand, contact us for more information.