Posts Tagged ‘TV interview prep’


When Prepping for a Media Interview, Don’t Forget the Easy Questions

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

When Prepping for a Media Interview, Don’t Forget the Easy Answers Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasWhen someone well-known puts their foot in their mouth, the media delights but the public relations pro cringes. The reps for Charlize Theron and Gwyneth Paltrow had very good reason to cringe this week when they both made ill-thought-out remarks about the nature of fame.

When SkyNews brought up her Google results, Theron replied, “I don’t [Google myself] – that’s my saving grace. When you start living in that world, and doing that, you start feeling raped.”

A few days prior, remarking on harsh online comments lobbed at her, Paltrow stated that such attention is “a very dehumanizing thing. It’s almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanizing thing, and then something is defined out of it. My hope is as we get out of it, we’ll reach the next level of conscience.”

In case you needed us to point it out, fame is not like war or sexual assault. So why did they give these answers to what were certainly not hardball questions? Herein lies a very important public relations reminder: when you prep a client or spokesperson for a media interview, prep them on the hard questions and the easy questions.

No one is too good for prep

No matter how accomplished a person is at being interviewed, they’re never too good for practice. Jim Miller, formerly SVP at Dentsu Communications and current president at Momentum Communications Group, says that “the best value you can provide is to cover the basics: review anticipated questions, reinforce key messages” and get in a practice run. A good rule of thumb is one hour of prep for every minute of air time. If someone is interviewed frequently, prep them regularly to keep them sharp and prevent any lapses.

Consistency and Sincerity

Interviewees who get a lot of coverage are likely to be asked the same questions multiple times, and even if they’ve answered a question countless times, it could be the first time a particular audience hears the answer. In order for the audience to be compelled to care about the interviewee, he must be sincere and relatable. Sound bites, even for the repeat questions, are a great aid for avoiding feigned interest or any perceived defensiveness. Your subject needs to connect to the audience and if they get stumped on the “What are your plans for the holiday?” then the rest falls apart quickly.

Rephrase common questions

When you’re prepping, always reframe the same questions to ensure you don’t fall prey to reiterating a negatively asked question and fumbling your response to fit into how the question was asked. practice tailoring canned responses. For example, “Do you Google yourself?” and “How do you feel when you Google yourself?” or “What’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen when you’ve Googled yourself?” Using the same talking points with different delivery will keep your interviewees thinking.

Keep everyone up-to-date

Your client or spokesperson may be asked to comment on a topic that is related, even if tangentially. Make sure they know how to respond with a key message or are adequately trained to bridge back to the primary topic.

Assess what works, then build

The post-interview debrief is equally as important as the preparation. You can get the best assessment of “what we can do better next time” of “need to hit that issue harder” of “have more resources about X to demonstrate expertise on the matter.”

Storytelling is a very powerful tool in the media relations arsenal; unfortunately, when placed in the wrong hands can be lethal. Work with subjects to make sure the images they conjure are relevant and on target. What other tips do you have for prepping answers to the easy questions?

11 Tips for a Successful On-Camera Interview

Monday, March 24th, 2014

11 Tips for a Successful On-Camera Interview Ellis Friedman Johna Burke BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasBeing interviewed on camera can be the most nerve-wracking of experiences, but lots of preparation – and the right kind of preparation – can be paramount to on-camera success. Whether you’re the one on camera or you’re helping someone prep for their turn on TV, here are some excellent, timeless interview preparation tips from Johna Burke. Remember that these are basic tips, and that a video camera is the best “tool” in your public relations toolbox.

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 avoiding 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 r…”
“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 include:
“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.

Remember that video magnifies the strengths and weaknesses of your interview skills, so on-camera dry runs can help you feel more comfortable and add extra polish to your presence.

Do you have any tips or tricks for media training?

Step Into The Spotlight

Friday, September 19th, 2008

tvinterviewthumbnailredesign.jpgIt’s not easy being in front of a camera. It seems that either some people have it or they don’t. While you may not be Natalie Portman or some other famous personality, you can certainly appear like one when it is your moment to shine. Read our top ten tips and then share some of your own.