As a media spokesperson for your organisation, you need to know how to handle a radio interview with professionalism and charm.
Follow these ten guidelines and you'll be sure to leave a lasting impression after your next radio interview.
Use a landline
Technology is a wonderful thing and hardly anyone is without a cell phone or mobile device these days. But when it comes to live radio interviews, using a landline is still the best option. So whether you are on the move or in the office, see if you can get access to a landline for the interview. The quality of the call is usually much better and you won't have problems with connectivity or signal.
Be ready to go at a moment's notice
Typically the show's producer will call you before it's your time to go on air and you will be placed on hold until the presenter is ready to talk to you. Some radio stations have the show playing so you will be able to hear the presenter leading up to your segment. This is however not a guarantee - the line may be quiet on your side and the next moment you are live on air.You need to be aware of this possibility and be ready to go at a moment's notice.
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 podcasts 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!
Include the question in your answer
When asked a question, include it as part of your response. This provides clarity to listeners 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 radio interview?" Answer: "It's important to repeat a question during a radio interview because it prevents the clip from being used out of context at a later stage."
Even though you are on radio, listeners will be able to sense your demeanor, mood and general vibe from only hearing to your voice. Make an effort of smiling and being passionate about your topic. We know all our clients have spokespeople that are passionate about their industries - and letting the passion come through during a radio interview plays a big role in the success of a radio interview.
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 listeners. 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 listeners.
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 your answers short
Anything under 30 seconds per answer and you've nailed it. This allows the presenter to follow up with further questions.
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 3!
Stay on the line until they hang up
This sounds easy enough but one can have two experiences here. Either the presenter will drop the call immediately after the interview - or the producer will take over and thank you for participating.
Either way, let them decide when the conversation is over, and if you have the opportunity, thank them for their time.
If you are interested in tips on acing a TV interview, keep a look out for my next blog post.