Category Archives: Media Relations

14 interview tips for print, TV and radio

Whether you’re preparing for a big interview, or your client is, or you need to train someone on how to be interviewed by the media, here are some tips to help make it as good as possible.

1) Always speak clearly and simply. Don’t use science or technology (or whatever field you’re in) jargon. Pretend like you’re explaining something to a third grader.

2) Find the time (if possible) to outline what points you want to say or answers to questions you anticipate. Write down everything you’d like to give in a response, then go back and edit it down to its simplest and shortest form.

3) We all goof up. If you realize you’ve accidentally said something incorrectly, offer correct information as soon as you realize what you’ve done. This isn’t as easy if you’re being interviewed live on television, so don’t lose your cool. But admitting you made a mistake is much better than letting the wrong information spread into public knowledge.

4) Never assume. If you’re being interviewed for an article, and you think the reporter has heard something incorrectly or you can sense there’s a misunderstanding of something, provide another, better explanation.

5) Follow-up is key. If you promise you’ll get back with the reporter with extra information, find out her/his deadline and get it there well before that.

6) It might sound like a no-brainer, but when you’re preparing for a television interview, know whether it’s going to air live or taped. Then enjoy feeling a little more at ease if it’s taped.

7) If you’re not accustomed to doing television or radio interviews, record yourself speaking so you know what thousands (millions?) of others are going to hear. If you’re happy with what you hear, that’s great. If you’re terrorized by the sound of your own voice, then work on it.

8) Speak simply and clearly. Again, record yourself practicing your answers, so you can determine if you need to slow down or speed up or enunciate. Nerves make us talk faster. (Avoid being over-caffeinated pre-interview!)

9) Know what your body does when you’re talking. Be aware of your gestures. Make sure they look natural. Don’t flail those arms.

10) Find out ahead of time, for a television interview, if you’ll be standing or sitting, inside or outside. Then dress and style accordingly. (No short skirts if you’re sitting; tie your hair back if you’re outside so you won’t be fidgeting with blowing hair while on camera; don’t wear white socks with sandals; don’t wear a shirt or skirt that’s too tight when you sit down.)

11) Make sure and ask where to look. Usually you look at the reporter, not the camera.

12) Be aware of your fidgets and don’t do them. (Playing with fingernails, biting inside of mouth, playing with your hair.)

13) For radio, know what type of format the program is: if it’s a hard news story, your interview will probably be brief and full of sound bites. For a talk-show format, you may need to fill 15-30 minutes with content. Make sure to be able to fill that time.

14) If you’re giving a radio interview by phone, stand up while talking! (Same works for phone job interviews.) It makes you more alert and helps your voice to carry clear and strong. Trust me, it’s obvious if you’re lying on the couch with your hand in a bag of Fritos.

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No Cards cover? Yikes, Sports Illustrated.

Update: As of 9:50 am 3:45 pm Friday, March 30, SI’s Facebook page still hasn’t officially said anything about the covers. Others, though, have posted on their wall, expressing their discontent. Many Louisville fans have said they’re canceling their subscriptions. Where are you on this, SI? There’s even a someecards about this!

The web is was abuzz this afternoon yesterday with the breaking news that Sports Illustrated created different covers to celebrate the NCAA Division I men’s basketball Final Four teams. Except there are three covers…and, well, four teams. The University of Louisville got left out.

[Disclaimer: I live in Kentucky, and I’m a U of L fan.]

That said: Come on, SI! The huge PR no no is that there’s no communication around this. As Eric Crawford (@ericcrawford), the Louisville Courier-Journal‘s sports columnist, blogged today March 29, yes, it’s in part a logistical and financial decision. SI publishes different covers for various U.S. regions with each issue (plus a national one), and “producing two covers for one region…really isn’t a good move financially.”

Why not combine the two teams on one cover? That seems like the logical solution if we’re looking at this in financial and logistical terms. Crawford agrees, as do a lot of folks on social media.

One tweeter captures my sentiments: “I think It’s pretty disrespectful to not have Louisville at least on the cover with Ky. Your marketing department dropped the ball.”

If you’re wondering why “Louisville” and “cover” are bolded, it’s because that’s the search term I used on Twitter to learn more about this. Hopefully, SI’s communication team is doing the same right now. A lot of tweets were found with those search terms.

Interestingly, as of 3:06 pm this afternoon, SI hasn’t address this issue on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. I’m sure (I hope) that’ll change soon.

Back to solutions: Why not bite the financial bullet, and produce two covers for one region? SI understands and appreciates the historic significance of the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville rivalry and the importance of this Final Four match up (check out their story about it). There wouldn’t be any magazines left on newsstands across the state.

It’s hard to say why SI made this decision. It would be fascinating to know what went on during the editorial meeting where this was decided.

At the very least, SI’s media relations and social media folks need to be responding asap to what’s happening on the web right now. A #boycottSI hashtag isn’t a good way to go into this basketball weekend.

P.S.: Good article on this from The Bleacher Report.

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So you want to change careers to PR? Some helpful resources

Recently, a colleague asked if I would sit down with his daughter and talk to her about what I do: marketing, social media, public relations. She’s looking to change careers: this field intrigues her, and she has some entry-level experience. Of course I said yes!

In addition to telling her about my background, my experience, and the ins and outs of what I currently do, I gave her some resources. And I want to share those here:

The night before we talked, I made some notes of points I definitely wanted to touch upon. One thing I knew without hesitation was that she would be the proud recipient of my copy of David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR (2011 third edition). I told her: read this book, if you don’t get excited or intrigued about what’s being talked about, this isn’t the field for you.

I also recommended subscribing to resources from Ragan.comSmartbrief on Social Media, PR Wise group on LinkedIn, and The Skinny from PR News.

What else would you recommend for her?

Related posts:
So you want to study PR? Tips for college students

So you want to be in PR? Tips for soon-to-be college graduates

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Confessions of an iPad convert

In February, I blogged the question: does not having an iPhone or other smartphone make you a bad PR professional? I kind of didn’t have an answer, because I wasn’t sure how I felt. Well, now I have an answer: yes. And my solution? An iPad2.

Four months ago I said that I wasn’t sure if I was being as effective a PR practitioner as I could be without the right props. In my new role doing public television media relations and social media, I knew I had to work on my props. Immediately.

Why the iPad? I did my research to figure out which tool would work best for me. It’s a personal decision, based on more than the idea of jumping on a bandwagon or just wanting the latest toy for the sake of it.

iPhone: I knew the iPhone wasn’t for me. I enjoy having a phone that I can drop and not worry about breaking; or stick in my sports bra when I’m jogging (I know, TMI); or accidentally lose and not cost me hundreds of dollars. The iPhone would force me to put too many eggs in one basket, so to speak, and I didn’t like the idea of that.

Other smartphone: I had a Blackberry last year and didn’t like it. It was hard to set up initially. Figures, when I did get it set up and began liking it, I dropped it in the toilet. (Refer to “too many eggs in one basket” observation above.)

Netbook: Although I’m very fond of the size of netbooks, it wasn’t an ideal solution because I needed Internet access at all times. Mostly, I needed it at home, since so many places have public access to wifi. I certainly could set up Internet at home…but then what if I’m not home and also somewhere without public wifi?

Portability was also a top priority. I needed whatever I chose to be light, not awkwardly shaped, and always ready to be put into my bag and whisked away.

There are so many brands pushing their tablets and sort-of tablets. For me, the iPad was a clear choice, especially in light of the iPad2’s release. Apple makes dependable products and offers good customer service (even if you do have to be on hold for a little while). I got the 3G model, so I’m never without Internet access. The monthly plan is less expensive than home Internet. [The data plan is limited, however, so we’ll see how much data I use of my 30-day allotment. Will it be enough or not enough?] Getting the wifi-only model would defeat the purpose of getting an iPad; I could have gotten a netbook, which would have been less expensive.

The iPad has a camera, which is so important for social media managers. Photographs and short videos are the most important content on social media, so having the tools to produce both is essential. The note-taking app (i.e., word processor) is smart and simple (I’m blogging this as a note first). The entire device is fast and small and clean. It’s an excellent and ideal tool for any PR professional to have.

This post is dedicated to Laura, a new higher education marketer, who was in the same technology boat as I was several months ago. I hope this helps her!

P.S.: I got the white one.

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Media frenzy: One American’s take on the Royal Wedding hullabaloo

A dear friend of mine woke up at 4 a.m. on Friday morning to watch the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The media frenzy surrounding this wedding has always intrigued me from a distance: I’m curious about the reasons why Americans are fascinated, yet not curious enough to try to become one of them.

So when my friend asked if I’d watched the wedding (I didn’t, though I woke up to NPR discussing it) and proceeded to tell me she had, I took the opportunity to interrogate her. One obvious question needed to be answered immediately: Why did you wake up at 4 a.m. to watch this?

“I can’t believe I woke up at 4 a.m., I’m going to be dead by the end of the day,” she said. “I’m also a hopeless romantic. As much as I try to fight it. And, I love the history behind it all.”

In no way was she the only one to do this. A foundation of the psychology of marketing is the idea that people love to be part of a group, a loyal following of someone or something. (My favorite exploration of this is in Martin Lindstrom’s Buyology.) It’s what all successful brands are based on.

My friend has always been fascinated by the royal family; it’s not just specific to Kate and William. I think my generation can say that as children, the media attention on Charles and Diana forced them to be a peripheral part of our lives. Tabloids, TV shows, nightly news: they were everywhere. In fact, when I was a kid, when my parents told me to clean my room, I motivated myself by imagining Princess Diana was coming to visit and that’s why I needed to clean my room. And of course, her death in 1997 was in the media for a very long time. My friend and I were both 14.

Interestingly, my friend says she really didn’t pay attention to a lot of the media hullabaloo leading up to William and Kate’s wedding.

“I’ve watched some of the specials, but I wanted to go at the wedding with fresh eyes,” she explained. “Although, I probably know more than the average American,” she added.

She certainly is full of fun facts, such as: the tiara that Kate wore was on loan from the Queen. It was the tiara given to her by her parents on her 18th birthday.

She also, along with many women of my generation, had a huge crush on William.

“When I was in London, I made it a point to drag this one friend with me everywhere in hopes that we would see him, and he would fall madly in love with me. And I’d be a real princess once and for all,” she laughed.

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