Be Bold and Broadcast
Amy Williams, Corporate Team
The Art of the Television Interview
The Art of the Television Interview
Never underestimate the impact of a 3-minute TV appearance. I once took a client to a Bloomberg Television interview: by the time it was over, and we were leaving the building, he had received over twenty emails from colleagues, clients and prospects, commenting on the televised discussion he had had with the anchor just moments before.
The thought of appearing on live TV or radio, however, can strike fear into the hearts of even the most seasoned media operators. When asking clients if they would consider using broadcast as a means of communication, I often get a mixed reaction, ranging from ‘never’ and ‘only if I come across alright’, to ‘most definitely’. As long as sufficient preparation has been undertaken, the pros of a broadcast interview far outweigh the cons. Not only can it raise the profile of your company, it can help to build your own personal brand and become known as a trusted and knowledgeable source within your industry. Furthermore, television has a global reach that targets crucial audiences.
The following pointers will help to make first-timers, or even old pros, feel more at ease when faced with a camera.
Your PR agency or in-house communications team will help you prepare for your interview – be it dealing with logistics or ensuring you know what to say. Prepare three key points that you want to get across and have some facts or statistics to support them. Be aware of the day’s news agenda and how that may affect your business. For example, if you are a portfolio manager, expect to be asked questions about how the latest economic data will impact your fund.
It might seem obvious to turn up for any interview in a suit and tie, but you would be surprised by how unprofessional some guests look. Avoid fussy patterns at all costs (they play havoc with cameras!) and stay away from clashing shirt and tie combos. Only last week, I watched an analyst on television, clutching a roll of papers tightly whilst talking about his sector. Try as I might to focus on what he had to say, most of my attention was drawn to that white bundle clenched in his hand - he kept waving it around to emphasise his point! If you do need to use notes as a prompt, then an iPad looks much more professional and avoids the problem of unnecessary fidgeting.
‘Practice runs or pre-interviews’ are a subject of contention. Some broadcasters will insist on a dry run and others won’t (usually owing to time restraints) so don’t be surprised if you go straight on-air. Before the interview however, you have a right to know the first questions that will be asked. Another obvious but essential ritual is to ensure that your mobile phone is switched off: do it as soon as you enter the building so you are not distracted by any calls or emails that may interrupt your train of thought.
When live, it is important to engage with the interviewer in the studio. If there isn’t one, know which camera you are talking to. Try to be as natural as possible - which may seem easier said than done – and keep in mind that your expertise and analysis is valued. Talk about the themes and issues in your industry with confidence and enthusiasm and be passionate about your business. Yet note that there is a fine line between showing passion and over-marketing yourself: the aim is to be invited back, so ensure the balance is right.
“The future of journalism is changing- if your model is print to digital, you have a real problem.”
This was a strong statement from Dafydd Rees, Bloomberg Television’s executive producer in EMEA at a recent breakfast briefing session. In truth, Mr. Rees is right: his comment is a stark reminder that the printed press is in danger of extinction. The digital revolution currently underway and things are changing in the world of media: digital is seen by many as the future of journalism. Nonetheless, audio or video clips can be embedded into related online news stories almost immediately after a live broadcast, thus making them extremely useful in the creation of online content.
Given the current transition from print to digital and the increasing dominance of online content, now is the time to take the leap into broadcast. By keeping the above pointers in mind, your experience should be relatively stress-free. But perhaps the most important tip of all is, enjoy yourself. After all - you’re on TV!