You are invited to be a guest on a television show. That might take the form of a 90-second interview or participating in a 20-minute panel. Of course that can provide exposure for your point of view, brand, cause, product, or service. However, television presents unique risks to those who are not “regulars” on the small screen. Here’s what you must know before you accept the invitation.
Does the camera love you? You can test this out in an unsophisticated way by having someone video-tape your simulation of what you would be doing during an appearance. If it goes okay then you might rehearse with a presentation coach who specializes in television.
If you and third parties observe you come across poorly and you sense that you may not be able to improve in time for the programming you might decline. However, think this through. Television remains a powerful medium. Politicians who initially were inept in front of the camera invested heavily in training and got significantly better.
What kind of reputation does the program have for controversy? You must research this. Are gotcha questions asked? That’s exactly what businesspeople have done for decades before appearing on “60 Minutes.” They came to understand what tactics interviewers and the camera-people tended to use and prepared for those. You can also attempt to negotiate ground rules.
Often those appearing on television create a script and then derive talking points from it. In that way they can come across as unscripted and can be flexible in what they say and how they say it. However, they know exactly the points they intend to make. With training they can gain control of the entire interview process.
Find out how the interviewer and other guests tend to position and package themselves. Based on that information you will figure out your persona as well as the content of your remarks. If they tend to be flamboyant, you will likely have to add some performance art to how you present yourself and talk in headlines or attention-getting soundbites.
What is the usual attire? Some shows encourage formal dress. Others are more casual. Also it’s important to check with a media consultant who understands the visual aspects of television what colors and cut of dress or suit you should wear.
Being interviewed by the media can be a homerun for your business. If the story turns out to be positive or at least present your point of view, your credibiity is increased because it is a third party talking. There is a whole branch of communications totally focused on media relations, that is, securing interviews for clients with media. Yes, media attention is that important.
However, the experience can turn out to be negative for those who aren’t aware of the dynamics of the process. In this piece I will present just the first part of what you have to know.
The media are a business. Successful members of the media are trained to develop rapport with those they interview. Often that’s perceived, especially if you are nervous or feeling needy, as friendship. The reality is that the business of the media is a competitive one. Each interviewer is digging for the most marketable story, one which will be attract a lot of visitors, shares, likes, and tweets. That means you have to be aware of what the interviewer is really searching for and that answer you give is both sincere and positions you in the best light. That might mean rehearsing or being coached by a media trainer. The art of giving a great interview is to be in full control but not coming across as coached or overly cautious.
Research the interviewer. In order to manage the interview you have to understand the usual tactics of the interviewer. You find that out by analzing their previous work. Also, you might want to discuss those tactics with an expert on media. No chief executive officer appears on “60 Minutes” without being briefed on every possible kind of questioning that could take place.
Research yourself. There may be aspects of your professional life or business that you view as negatives but assume are unknown to the public. When it comes to dealing with the media, you can’t go on that assumption. To do a comprehensive job of putting together their story, the interviewers probably did some prior investigating digging into public documents as well as talking with sources who will likely remain anonymous. Be prepared on how to position that possibly damaging information if it comes up.
In future posts we at Image Marketing Consultants will present other tips on how to manage your media interview so that it turns out to be a plus for your brand and your business.
Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations on Media Relations, Marketing, Partnership, Special Events, and Social Media email@example.com, 203-404-4868.