Anytime a reporter calls on you for your expert opinion, it’s a fantastic opportunity to get some free publicity for yourself or your business. However, being a great interview subject is a skill, and knowing the proper way to be interviewed can make the difference between seizing your time in the limelight or ending up on the cutting room floor. Below are some tips for getting the most screen time as possible.
Adjust to how the finished product will be used.
Before you start, ask the reporter if your interview going to be aired in its entirety, or whether they will just be cherry picking the best bites. If they’re just cherry picking (which is often the case) you’ll want to incorporate the reporter’s question into each and every answer.
Mind you, I don’t mean to repeat the question, but incorporate the question. This way, the reporter can easily work your sound bites into their piece without the bother of tricky editing. For instance, if the reporter asks, “Why is your company sponsoring this event today?” don’t say “Because we know that all students should have access to technology in the classroom.” Instead, start with “ABC Corporation is proud to sponsor today’s event because we know that that all students should have access to technology in the classroom.”
Your statement will stand on its own, and the reporter will be more likely to use it.
Speak in sound bites.
Today’s average television news story is only 90 seconds or less! That means you need to keep your sound bites short and sweet if you want them to make the final cut. If you have a little bit of notice before your interview, take a moment to anticipate what the reporter’s questions will be, and see if you can answer them in 20 or 25 seconds. Be thoughtful about what the most important message you want to convey is, and don’t feel obligated to fill the silences in the interview. Say your piece, and wait for the next question.
Ask if the reporter got what they needed.
Your reporter is probably thinking about how the story will shape up even before your interview starts, and knows the kind of sound bites they need to make the piece come together. Don’t be shy about asking whether they need you to comment about anything else. If you deliver the winning sound bite, you get more face time and their job is easier.
A few other quick tips:
- Don’t grab the microphone; always let the reporter hold it for you.
- Look at the reporter, not the camera.
- You may be able to purchase a high quality copy of your piece from the TV station for your own promotional use. Contact them right away for more information.
Pulling a story together out of a heap of sound bites is no easy feat. Understanding the process from the reporter’s point of view will help you will help you make the most of your time in front of the camera.