Posts Tagged ‘preparation’


Don’t Let a Bad Interviewer Spoil the Interview

Friday, January 28th, 2011
Image Source: cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com

Image Source: cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com

First, I want to say I LOVE Piers Morgan on America’s Got Talent and Twitter. His whole “persona” comes across perfectly as a judge and in 140-characters. When I heard he was Larry King’s replacement I harkened back to his appearance on Celebrity Apprentice and thought he would do a great job “handling” the celebrities and wouldn’t be too intimidated to ask the tough questions. I was wrong. Piers doesn’t lack chutzpah, he appears to simply be too narcissistic and has more interest in what he has to say rather than his interviewee.

Piers is a trained reporter and editor. He has the pedigree to replace Larry King; unfortunately he’s just not a good interviewer. Instead of focusing on the interviewee, you can see him anticipating a hole in the conversation so he can make his next comment. Seeing him in action reminded me that the interview can only be as good as the preparation of your interviewee.

Basic Media Interview Tips:

Practice: Successful message development and delivery depends on preparation. Think through how you will respond to tough or hostile questions by developing and practicing clear, honest and appropriate answers.

Conclusions: Prepare and present your conclusion throughout the interview. Just as you wouldn’t bury the lead you can’t “hope” the interviewer will ask you the perfect question.

Avoid Jargon: Instead of using industry jargon speak in simple lay terms.

Key messages: Prepare, understand and practice key messages. Return to key messages as often as possible – Think Bill Clinton not Gary Condit.

Deal with difficult questions: Some questions can’t be given a straight answer, but to avoid the question looks bad too. Bridging and Blocking are very effective assets.

Bridging: Maintain control of the interview with the use of these common bridging phrases -
“Before we leave the subject, let me add that…”
“And the one thing that is important to remember is…”
“While…is important, it is also important to remember…”
“It’s true that…but it is also true that…”

Blocking: Never say “no comment” – it’s an obvious don’t. Instead, simple blocking allows you to focus the conversation. Common blocking phrases:
“I think what you’re really asking is…”
“That’s an interesting question, and to put it in perspective…”
“I don’t have precise details, but what I do know is…”

Never Repeat Negative Questions: Always frame your answer in the positive. Think about sound bites.

Stick to your message: Simple is better. Avoid the expert trap of over-answering. Work on test questions and learn when to stop talking.

Remove distractions: Technology is wonderful, but even the most seasoned interviewee can’t fight the Pavlovian response of the flashing red light or the subtle vibration that a message has arrived to their mobile device.

Relax: Be calm, confident and conversational.

In fairness to Piers, his first guests, Oprah Winfrey and Howard Stern, are arguably two of the best interviewers in the industry. They ask questions, some tough and some embarrassing, and get out of the way so people can answer. They have an inherent ability to relate and create a bond with the interviewee. Really great interviewers are few and far between which makes interview preparation an imperative skill for PR pros.

These tips are the basics. The best “tool” in your public relations toolkit is a video camera. Video magnifies the strengths and weaknesses of your interview skills and allows you to fast-track growth and improvement. Do you have any tips and tricks you use for media training?

Integrating Social and Real-Life Networking

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Valerie Simon

Integrating Social and I could not be more excited to attend the PRSA T3 conference on June 11, 2010. The co-chairs, PRSA Technology section chair Rich Teplitsky and my #PRStudChat partner, 2.0 expert and author Deirdre Breakenridge, have put together an incredible agenda of topics and speakers that are sure to excite anyone looking to stay ahead of the curve in public relations and social networking.

Here are a few of the ways I’ll be integrating social media into my conference experience to assure I make the most of the opportunity.

Advance preparation

  • Twitter: If you follow me on Twitter, you may already have seen that I’ve begun tweeting about the conference, speakers, and other attendees using the hashtag #techprsa. In addition, I’ve participated in a pre-conference Twitter Chat and started a Twitter list of T3 attendees, so that I could get to know them better outside of the hashtag. I’ve even set up a column using hootsuite.com to begin monitoring pre-conference conversation using the conference hashtag.
  • LinkedIn: I’m a longtime member of the PRSA LinkedIn Group and am watching closely a discussion posted by Nicole Zerillo, marketing communications social media manager, PRSA, regarding the conference. I also joined the PRSA technology section group which is much more focused on the upcoming conference than the general PRSA group on LinkedIn.
  • Facebook: My Facebook account is really more personal, than professional, but sometimes the lines blur a bit. For example, I’m keeping a close eye on the PRSA Facebook page and have left a comment on one discussion about the T3 conference.
  • Google Reader (RSS): I’ve confirmed that the blogs of all speakers are in my Google Reader and organized them in a special folder. Now to continue adding the blogs of other attendees I anticipate meeting…
  • General Social Media: When it gets a bit closer to the event, I plan to update my status on all social sites and share that I will be attending the event. 

As important as the online preparation is, don’t forget the value of offline communication. Many speakers are also authors; in fact, I am hoping to finish speaker Justin Levy’s book, Facebook Marketing: Designing Your New Marketing Campaign, before hearing his session!

Live attendance
When the big day comes, I’ll be there early. While a conference offers many opportunities to share information live, I don’t intend to focus on live blogging/micro-blogging. I am there to take advantage of the benefits of face-to-face networking and learning. Perhaps I’ll tweet a few of the brilliant remarks from speakers, but only if I find that it is not distracting me from making the most of what is happening in that room.

But don’t worry, I won’t forget about you, the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas. I’ll bring my flip cam, in hopes of introducing you later to some of the incredible people I meet. Perhaps I’ll take a few photos to share; I’ve really enjoyed the Whrrl stories created by Perkett PR… maybe it’s time I create my own, or perhaps interview some of the speakers for a future Fresh Ideas or Public Relations Examiner post.

Conference follow-up
I am sure that I will return from the conference with many new connections and valuable resources and expect that the night (and weekend) after the conference, I’ll be very busy. In general, I make it a point to follow EVERY new contact on Twitter (and plan to add those from the conference to my T3 PR Twitter list); this allows me the opportunity to continue listening and learning from them. And I send personal LinkedIn invitations to those I have connected with, and want to be sure I keep in my network. 

I’ll also be downloading video and sifting through notes, taking some time to contemplate all that I heard and learned, before sitting down to blog. And finally, I intend to make a trip to Barnes and Noble. (I always seem to walk away from these conferences with some great new book recommendations.)

Whew. It seems like a lot, but I am a firm believer that there is a direct correlation between investment and return. What steps do you take to maximize the opportunities of the conferences you attend? What are your plans for this year’s PRSA T3 conference? How are you integrating social and real-life networking and capitalizing on the ROI?