TV interviews are considered to be the scariest, yet most exciting publicity opportunity for the spokesperson of an organisation. It is therefore important that the media spokesperson of an organisation is well aware of the do's and don'ts before stepping into the studio.
The Editors group recently presented media training to our clients and based on their knowledge and experience, I can now provide you with ways of acing your next TV interview.
Watch what you wear
Firstly, don't wear glasses or sunglasses - the studio lights will reflect from your glasses and if the audience can't see your eyes, it's difficult to earn trust. Secondly, stay away from stripes or spots - these small patterns gets distorted and "moves" across the screen when the insert is being broadcasted.
Pay attention to where you are looking
If a person looks straight into the camera, they often end up looking "shifty". We therefore recommend rather facing the person who is interviewing you, or if on a panel, looking at one of the other panelists.
Include the question in your answer
When asked a question, include it as part of your response. This provides clarity to the audience who just tuned in and prevents the clip from being used out of context at a later stage.
For example: "Why is it important to repeat the question during a TV interview?" Answer: "It's important to repeat a question during a TV interview because it prevents the clip from being used out of context at a later stage."
You may do a TV interview for 30 minutes, but the average soundbite is 20 seconds, so be clear and concise. Answer questions, but don’t be distracted from communicating your messages. There is no rush so take a breath before answering a question.
There’s a difference between pre-recorded and live pieces. With a pre-record, your answers are edited and you can have another go if you fluff up your lines. Pick up your answer from about five seconds before and answer again;
Use the presenter's name
Using the presenter's name not only comes across as professional, but it also allows you a couple of seconds to gather your thoughts. We usually provide our clients with information on the presenter and we suggest taking a moment to read his or her biography on the station's website, or visiting their LinkedIn or Twitter profile. And make sure to check out their vlogs if there are any available - this will give you a very good idea of the presenter's style and approach.
And yes, we provide the presenter and / or the producer with your information as well!
Mention your organisation
The presenter may have mentioned your organisation at the start of the interview but it's up to you to ensure the name sticks with the audience. Now, don't confuse this statement with overt punting of your brand - that is a big #PRfail and you will not be invited back. However, be clever. Instead of saying "we believe" say "here at At That Point PR, we believe". This again provides additional context and clarity for the audience.
You can say no
I haven't met a spokesperson who doesn't worry about being asked a question they either can't answer or don't want to answer. You can say no! You don't need be brash, a simple: "Unfortunately, Alex, I am not at liberty to make comment on that question" will do. If there are legal implications to answering the question, you can also mention that.
Seasoned spokespeople struggled with the same worry but soon discovered ways of leading the presenter back to the topic at hand.
Keep it simple
All our clients deal with complex topics most listeners don't understand in it's entirety. "Corporate governance" may be easier understood when it's referred to as "the way an organisation is ran". As far as possible, taking into consideration the audience of the show, try to use simple, jargon-free language. If however the show has the type of listeners that will understand your organisation's messages, use the correct terminology. Not sure about the type of listeners? Refer back to point 6!
Always remember: with a live take there’s no rehearsal, you need to get it right first time!