Category Archives: Television

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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Live tweeting and good television go hand in hand

A colleague wanting to learn more about Twitter recently asked: If someone is watching a show on TV, then why would they also follow live tweets on Twitter during the show?

Good question. Three words: Sopranos season finale.

(If you’re familiar with the season finale of The Sopranos, this post will make a little more sense than if you aren’t.)

People love to be part of a conversation, group or movement. As Martin Lindstrom says in Buyology, followers “feel honored to be members of [a brand’s] fold.” This goes for anything from a car to a television show to a civic group.

So although we watch shows on television alone (or with a few other people at most, generally), it’s a collective activity when millions are watching the same thing at the same time. When something happens on a show, we want to gasp, or laugh, or say “OMG,” and see if others who are watching feel the same way, saw the same thing, or can offer some clever insight.

And Twitter has given us that capability.

Twitter was just a baby in June 2007 when the Sopranos season finale aired. While there might have been some activity then, if that finale aired today, Twitter would shut down because of tweet overload. Instead, we texted. Blogging started almost immediately, but imagine the conversations that could have taken place on Twitter.

The collective feeling Sopranos finale viewers had during the show is what drives television viewers to hop on Twitter to see what’s being said about what they’re watching at that moment.

The concept applies to television shows across the board. Live tweeting during television shows can be organic (as it would have been with The Sopranos, given HBO secretiveness about the finale) or part of an integrated marketing plan, such as CNN does with nearly all of its programs.

It’s a bandwagon marketers have to jump on, and they are: In an April 2011 post, Digital Buzz Blog reports from a Microsoft Tag study release that 86% of mobile Internet users use their devices while watching TV.

In an article from TIME’s Techland blog, it’s reported that, according to a small-scale study conducted by IPG Media Lab and YuMe, 60 percent of television watchers fidgeted with their cell phones while plopped in front of the TV and 33 percent used their laptops.

Be observant next time you’re watching your favorite television show. Chances are, a hashtag exists in the corner of the screen. Good recent example: Nicki Minaj on Good Morning America. GMA created the hashtag #GMAMinaj. Go online and see what fans said while watching the performance.

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Advertising: Is Diet Coke as classy as it wants us to believe?

Last summer, my partner and I spent a long weekend in Miami, and we ate at a fantastic Indian restaurant (bad, bad service, awesome food). After wandering around South Beach for hours (including a half-mile trek in the sand), I was super thirsty, and at the restaurant I ordered a water and a Diet Coke. I just had one of those cravings.

Later that night, while talking about the restaurant, my partner mentioned something about “ordering a Diet Coke in a classy restaurant.” That is, he was pointing out the unclassiness of ordering a Diet Coke at an expensive, sit-down, nice establishment.


I hadn’t given his pronouncement much thought until I recently saw a commercial for Diet Coke, in which Tom Colicchio, famous New York chef and judge on Bravo’s Top Chef series, told me it was okay to order a Diet Coke in a classy restaurant.


“When it comes to taste, it’s important to know the difference between being sophisticated and, uh, whatever that is…,” says Colicchio in the opening of the commercial, as he watches a waiter at an upscale restaurant bring a woman an entrée most would call “fancy.”

“You don’t have to overcomplicate it,” Colicchio continues, as he sits down at the bar. The bartender pours a Diet Coke into a glass for him. “No gimmicks, no fads…just keep it simple. Because when you start with good taste, you don’t need anything else. ”

Diet Coke is attempting three major things: 1) to draw in customers from the higher-echelon, foodie segment; 2) to tell current customers Diet Coke isn’t just for those drive-through Styrofoam cups, and 3) to tell men it’s okay for them to drink Diet Coke. (We’ll just focus on the first two.)

The marketing strategy at work here is fantastic. Diet Coke has determined a segment of the population it isn’t currently serving and that their research has shown might be receptive to and perhaps benefit from its product.

In addition, the long-term goals here are lofty and profitable: if people begin craving a Diet Coke with any type of meal, consumer demand might encourage restaurants who don’t sell soft drinks now to do so in the future. And this, of course, increases Diet Coke’s sales in the restaurant segment.

But will any of this advertising work? Except for that one time in Miami (no, really), I normally order a glass of water or wine at a nice restaurant. This isn’t uncommon by any means, and because my curiosity was piqued, I explored the drinking habits of fellow Diet Cokers I found.

*Editor’s note: for the context of these purposes, “fast-food restaurant” is defined as an establishment like McDonalds or Taco Bell; “sit-down restaurant” is defined as an establishment like Applebee’s or O’Charley’s; and “fine-dining restaurant” is defined as, well, none of the major chains, the food is excellent, a bit pricey, and you feel you should dress up when you go.

Sarah* is a self-proclaimed Diet Coke drinker who has one to two cans or glasses a day. When she visits fast-food restaurants and sit-down restaurants, she’s been known to order a Diet Coke. However, she says, “I usually drink wine at fine dining establishments.” Ah, my partner would like her.

Jane, also a Diet Coker, only drinks it from cans or 20-oz bottles (one or two a day). But she only drinks water when eating out, no matter what type of restaurant it is.

A gal who has two to three Diet Cokes a week, Elizabeth orders only Diet Coke at fast-food restaurants, rarely at sit-down restaurants and never at fine-dining restaurants.

Sheila “hardly ever” has a Diet Coke. Hardly ever as in probably once or twice a year.

And when Nicole has a Diet Coke, which is maybe once every two months (and even then, that’s stretching it), it’s just at a fast-food restaurant. “Or at a bar mixed with some rum!”

Ann concurs. She’s been “Diet Coke free for two years,” but admits: “The only way to drink Diet Coke is with rum.”

And finally, we have what Diet Coke might consider its ideal customer: Mary, a Diet Coker, who, though she’s cut back from three to four a day to one a day, has been known to drink Diet Coke at each of the three different types of establishments.

A total of 12 individuals responded to my survey (11 females, 1 male). I know, not exactly scientific, but you have to admit, it has been fun.

Of those 12:

  • 2 drink absolutely no soft drinks
  • One prefers Diet Pepsi
  • Another prefers Diet Dr. Pepper
  • One is a former, recovering Diet Coke drinker
  • Two rarely drink soft drinks, but when they do, they choose Diet Coke
  • One tolerates the taste of Diet Coke for weight-loss reasons
  • Four out of 12 people surveyed consider themselves regular-basis Diet Coke drinkers

And now for the final stat of the survey: of those who consider themselves regular-basis Diet Coke drinkers, only one of them admits to drinking the beverage in a fine-dining establishment.


According to my unscientific survey, Diet Coke has definitely pinpointed a market. And whether they can beat out wine and water (among women) to become a favorite option at fine-dining establishments, well, that may be a challenge. I suggest Diet Coke narrow its goals down to one: encouraging current drinkers to drink it anywhere and everywhere. Just don’t bring a Styrofoam take-out cup into a fine-dining establishment.

*names were changed to protect Diet Cokers!

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A day or so in the life of a compulsive recycler (is there an A&E show for this?)

I tend to drive people a little crazy with my recycling. I don’t carry a soapbox in my handbag nor am I militant about many things. Or so I thought, until I chronicled roughly 48 (inconsistent) hours of my plastic and paper snatching.

This study isn’t exactly scientific: the bright idea came to me on the night of Jan. 30, which means New Year’s Eve celebrating fell into the 48-hour period. I wasn’t at home, either, but rather at my family’s house for the holidays. So the results are a little skewed. In addition, it forced me to dig things out of the trashcan. Which I don’t usually do. Usually.

But each time I glanced into the trashcan I saw paper, plastic, glass, and steel that could easily be salvaged and reused with just a little effort. What extremes do others go to in order to recycle?

For me, it’s a habit I can’t break. And if I’m ever at your house, I just might rummage through your trash, or patiently explain what paper you can (newspaper) or can’t (paper towels) recycle.

Actually, I’d love to do that.

Dec. 30, 2009

Sitting at the kitchen table at 10:41 p.m. playing a game of cards, I polish off a plastic bottle of water, crunch it up, walk to my bedroom and toss it into my “plastics” recycling bag next to my luggage.

Two minutes later, back at the kitchen table and waiting for my turn to play, I notice empty plastic water and Pepsi bottles in the trash; pull them out, wash, put in dish drainer to dry. Closer inspection reveals a plastic fountain drink lid and straw beneath dirty paper towels. Pull out, wash, dry.

My hands smell funny.

At 10:51 p.m. we’re still playing cards, and I notice an empty 59-oz plastic lemonade bottle on the sink that my mom saved for me! It’s already rinsed out.

She’s learning!

Earlier that day at the public library, I scribbled something down on a library newsletter. After being a sore loser at cards and retreating to my bedroom at 11:35 p.m., I decide I don’t need the scribbled-down note any longer. Tear it up and toss it in my “papers” recycling bag.

I bought something at Dollar General earlier that day and three minutes after slam-dunking the newsletter, I recycled the plastic bag.

Dec. 31, 2009

It’s 8:20 a.m. and while I’m waiting for the coffee to brew in the kitchen, I grab the lemonade, Pepsi, and water bottles I left drying the night before. Plus another water bottle and a McDonald’s iced coffee cup/lid/straw I’d washed a few days ago. Into my plastics bag they all go!

At 8:31 a.m., as I’m walking into the living room to enjoy my coffee and some Saved By The Bell, I detect recycling in the trashcan. It’s a sixth sense. Sure enough, there’s a discarded peanut butter jar, a fast food paper bag and a plastic coffee cup mocking me from atop a mountain of dirty napkins.

I grab the plastic cup and paper bag, but I leave the PB jar. There’s nothing nastier than cleaning peanut butter off of something. But as Zack Morris gets into mishap after mishap, I start to feel guilty. Back to the kitchen. I fill up the PB jar with hot water in order to make washing it a little later a little easier.

My dad walks by and says good morning.

At 8:38 a.m. I head back to the kitchen for more coffee and discover that my dad has poured out the water from the PB jar and has thrown the jar away…again!

An argument ensues.

He tells me that he isn’t wasting his water to clean off something so I can recycle it. He also tells me he isn’t going to recycle and no one can make him. That’s what trash collectors are for.

Yikes. We put our soapboxes away for the time being, but my PB jar gets cleaned and recycled.

At 12:57 p.m., after a trip to the grocery store, I recycle cardboard from Diet Coke and Orange Crush packages. Two minutes later, my mom confesses she put a plastic 2-liter bottle in the trash. She takes it out, rinses it, and gives it to me.

She’s so learning!

At 1:18 p.m., while waiting for my family to get ready so we can go out for lunch, I take the time to organize recycling in my trunk. Already in there are a few bags of plastic coffee and creamer containers from work and some newspapers that need to go, too.

My trunk looks nice now. There’s plenty of room for more recycling!

Back at home, my sister gives me an empty 2-liter Sprite bottle at 3:42 p.m.

Good girl!

At 6:40 p.m., I notice an empty Reynolds Wrap box I forgot I put on the washer.

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m making my world-famous stuffed mushrooms. At 7:19 p.m. I’m already late for a party, and I hurriedly toss cardboard mushroom containers from the produce section and a washed-out plastic cream cheese container into my recycling bags. Should probably re-wash that cream cheese container again tomorrow, just in case.

Jan. 1, 2010

I get a late start this day.

At 1:08 p.m., my mom gives me a plastic water bottle to recycle. I’m totally loving this woman, especially when at 1:17 p.m. I find a 2-liter Pepsi bottle she’s washed and left for me on the kitchen sink.

After polishing off the rest of my Bolthouse Farms Vanilla Chai Tea at 1:54 p.m., I recycle the bottle.

On my drive home that morning, I’d bought a coffee from McDonalds. I decided at 2:44 p.m. to keep the cup and use it again. It’s a good, strong cup.

Around 2:53 p.m., I notice some deli containers in the fridge, full of potato salad and baked beans. Before I can open my mouth, my dad tells me he’ll reuse them.

I leave them alone. For the time being.

Coffee break at 3:42 p.m. and time to reuse the McDonalds cup!

Take empty cardboard toilet paper roll from bathroom trashcan at 3:45 p.m.

Thankfully, my hands do not smell weird.

At 9:23 p.m., my dad puts an empty plastic milk container in the trash. In front of me. I get it out. He shakes his head.

As a final coup before dozing off at 10:24 p.m., I grab a cardboard paper towel roll I catch peeking out of the trashcan and shake it at him, before tossing it into my “papers” recycling bag!

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