Interviewing Dos & Don'ts

TV and Radio Interviews

TV and radio interviews offer a great way to get your message to the public quickly and directly. While they're short in nature, TV and radio interviews can have a tremendous impact on your company. However, these interviews require additional planning and training.

  • Be succinct.
    For broadcast, you'll only have a short window to state your case--usually three to five minutes. This means your answers have to be concise.

  • But don't be fast.
    Nerves can cause people to speak too quickly. Try to keep a measured pace as you speak. A good way to calm your nerves is to concentrate on taking slow, deep breaths. This prevents hyperventilation and focuses your thoughts.
  • Have one key message.
    The short timeframe of a TV or radio segment may only allow for one message. Make sure to pick your best, most relevant message, and nail it! Repeat it, if possible.

  • Build a bridge.
    The in-the-moment nature of TV and radio gives you the opportunity to avoid answering a specific question and instead can allow you to "build a bridge" between the question and the message you want to deliver. For instance, a query about sales figures could be turned into a discussion on the company's long-term strategy; a query on new product development could be used as a springboard to speak about the key benefits this product the consumer offers.

There are generally two settings in which a TV interview will occur--face-to-face with the reporter or off-site into a camera.

  • In-person:
    For in-person interviews, unless otherwise instructed, avoid speaking to the camera. Instead, interact with the reporter as if you were immersed in a conversation. Look the reporter in the eyes. Don't let your eyes drift to the camera, the ground or the ceiling. Also, avoid moving around or, conversely, being a statue. Extremes in either direction are amplified by the camera.

  • Off-site:
    More often than not, TV interviews are conducted off-site, where the interview subject is asked to speak to a camera and receive the questions via earpiece. This setting can be a bit disorienting if you're not properly prepared. Prior to the start of the interview, make sure you're in a comfortable position and the earpiece is secure. If you feel any awkwardness, alert the producer. Remember, the smallest signs of discomfort are magnified on-air. Once the interview begins, the best technique is to try to have a conversation with the camera; maintain eye contact, but avoid staring--try to imagine that the camera is a person. There may be a monitor in the room broadcasting the interview. If so, resist the urge to look. Wandering eyes are very noticeable on screen.

Remember, while there's no way to guarantee that an interview will result in favorable coverage, in most cases, reporters are interested in presenting an accurate, balanced story that'll be appealing to their audience.

If there's one key takeaway from this crash course in media training, it's this: When you state your case in a confident, informative manner, you're helping the journalist. In most cases, that'll result in coverage that reflects positively on you and your company, no matter what the topic is.

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Mark Nowlan is senior vice president of marketing & communications at PR Newswire. Nowlan is a frequent lecturer on media relations, strategic communications and crisis communications at industry conferences around the country. Get more information about PR Newswire and public relations with their PR Toolkit for small businesses.

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