Whether you have dealt with journalists before or not, the first time you go into a TV or radio studio can be daunting. It’s a fairly alien environment and if you are doing a down-the-line it can feel quite counterintuitive.
A different mindset is required for broadcast interviews and even seasoned print media spokespeople can struggle to find success in broadcast. By the same token, some people are almost naturals when the cameras are on them in an ordered interview, yet they find the longer print interactions difficult to master.
The structure of broadcasters varies hugely from their print cousins and so having an understanding of this will help you, but the different types of TV or radio interview you might face, will require you to adjust your approach accordingly too.
You have to be at your very best for those seconds, or minutes, you are on camera, making sure you are clear, concise and passionate, but if you can do this you’ll find broadcast media to be a hugely rewarding medium.
One other factor spokespeople may have to consider is live versus pre-record; people often say they’d rather undergo a pre-recorded interview, but this does leave the power of editing to the show’s producer, so if you get the choice you should choose a live interview to ensure that you can’t be taken out of context – this again, of course, means that you have to be well prepared and ready to perform.
So, what do you need to do to make sure your broadcast interviews do go well?
• First; you need to work with your PR team to work out what you want to get out of the interview; what do you want to communicate, and is this really the right medium to do it?
• Second; come up with three key messages or ideas that you want to get across, even if you are just commentating on a topic. Then make sure you have the evidence, stats and examples to back up what you are saying.
• Third; practice for the interview, ideally in formal training but at the very least with your colleagues – your answers need to be tested out loud, as this is not the occasion to try and wing it.
Obviously learning and practicing the skills for interacting with the broadcast media is time well spent for the other parts of business life too; whether it’s giving a formal speech or in a meeting with clients, if you have the skills to handle a broadcast interview you’ll be well prepared for these areas too.
Facing down the lens isn’t easy, but with the right help and preparation it will mean you can be seen and heard by millions – no wonder Bill Gates said ‘if I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on PR’.
Written by Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – May 2012