Yikes! I Just Landed a Television Interview. Now What?

Television interviews are, by far, the trickiest of all press encounters but they can also be the most rewarding in terms of your public relations efforts. Welcome the opportunity to appear on TV, and be prepared. By remembering a few rules and practicing, anyone can look and sound big on the little screen.

Generally there are three types of television interviews:

Recorded: Your interview will be aired in its entirety or will be cut up into smaller sound bites for part of a larger story. Recording ' and editing later -- enables the reporter to ask the same question over again if he stumbles over his words. You can do the same with your answer. The best thing to remember here is that if you start an answer and flub it after a couple of words, simply stop and start over. If they are just going to use a sound bite, the reporter is not likely to air your mistake.

Live in studio: You are being interviewed in a setting in which you are with other people in the room and can interact with them as if it were just a normal conversation. This is probably the most comfortable of the three formats.

Live on location: You are alone in a studio facing nothing but a camera because you are in a remote location, away from the main studio where the interviewer is located. You can hear, but not see the interviewer. Look straight into the camera the entire time (but don't glare), just as though it were an interviewer. If you look away, you'll seem distracted and aloof. Keep looking at the camera until the technician in the studio says you are off the air.

With some exceptions, there is little room for asking in-depth questions that require in-depth answers. So how do you get your story right? Make sure the reporter is well briefed on the subject. TV reporters often have to cover a wide range of topics. The better informed they are, the better questions they will ask and the better the interview will go. You don't want a reporter asking, "So, what does your business do?" Better to get a question like, "After 20 years in the business, what trends do you see for the next year or so?" Schedule a background phone call before the interview, if possible, to cover all of the basic information with the reporter.

Here are some rules to remember when doing a television interview:

· Before you do a broadcast interview, make sure you have all of the details. Who is doing the interview? Will it be a panel interview on a particular topic or will your executive have the camera and/or mic to himself? Know the show format and the names of other guests who will be on before you.

· Memorize your message points. Don't look at your notes. Repeat messages two or three times naturally during the conversation so the interviewer can choose the best versions of sound bites.

· Sit slightly forward in an upright, non-swivel chair with arms.

· Men: Wear dark suits with off-white or blue shirts. Avoid "busy" ties. Sit on the bottom of your suit jacket so the shoulders do not ride up. · Men: Don't refuse makeup. A little powder on the forehead will keep you from looking like a lighthouse. Bring an electric shaver to erase your five o'clock shadow. Wear socks that go up to your calf so your ankles don't show.

· Women: Avoid large, shiny, dangling, or otherwise distracting jewelry. Avoid "busy" clothing patterns. Colors are fine.

· Be visual. Do the interview at your place of business, if appropriate. Even better, if you have a factory floor, a control room, or some other kind of high visual, use that as the backdrop. · Bring a prop—your product or some other object to illustrate your point.

· Talk directly to the interviewer. The camera and microphone will find you. Maintain eye contact.

· Gesture with your hands where appropriate.

· Be personable and open. Smile when appropriate.

Television interviews generally are as much about style as substance, so HOW you look is important. More than 90% of communication is nonverbal, so the way you carry yourself, the way you dress, your gestures, and your facial expressions are critically important. Unless you are a bank loan officer or a DMV clerk, the human face is capable of about 10,000 distinct expressions. There's an old adage that television adds 10 pounds to anyone's appearance. I think it really depends on how many jelly doughnuts you eat in the green room before the broadcast. Maybe the camera does give you a slightly wider appearance, but how you look depends more on your posture, your face, your gestures, and the way in which you dress.

Hit your messages, remember your appearance, be engaged in the interview and you'll be great!



Robert Deigh is the author of the new PR book,"How Come No One Knows About Us?"(WBusinessBooks). For a free full chapter, "16 Ways to Come Up With Story Ideas That Will Attract Press," contact rdeigh1@aol.com http://www.rdccommunication.com/