Talking to the press, especially when it’s recorded, can be a daunting task and your mind can go sometimes go blank suddenly. So here are my top thirteen tips to getting your message across when being interviewed in front of a microphone.
News NEEDS your story, so take action
No matter your story, you can probably get local press or radio coverage largely because news outlets are desperate for interesting stories. DESPERATE even! If you have a half decent angle, can talk passionately and can supply all the needs of the broadcaster (you have a good website, press pack etc), the likelihood is you will get asked in for an interview. But you will not be ‘discovered’. Shamelessly pimp yourself out. No-one else will.
Never give up
Of course it may well take many emails and calls to get results, especially if the show or news outlet is bigger and more prestigious. But never give up, persistence is the key to getting yourself heard, so long as you are not an idiot about it. Now is not the time for false modesty!
Have support materials to hand
When you get a yes, immediately send press packs, photos, sound clips, video clips… whatever is relevant. Many people fail to do this, and you do it yourself, you may find yourself with more air time than other guests simply because you were organised. Researchers and radio hosts are very busy, so make their life easy by flagging up good topics that are hyper relevant to you and your project.
Know your core messages, ideally three
In any interview you should try and get over three core messages. Of course you will speak about a great deal of other things and you may not get all three in, but these should be tattooed to your forehead – or more likely written on your hand. This is radio right?
Rehearse your interview
Before you even get there, spend time with a friend rehearsing your interview. Get them to ask you simple questions repeatedly, and throw in tough, perhaps even personal, left field questions so you are ready for anything. Interviews for radio are usually unconfrontational, but if it does get tense, you will be prepared. The secret is, to have great answers to questions BEFORE you get asked on air. And don’t read notes on air, you sound like a robot!
Ask how long it will last
When you get to the studio, or when confronted by a person with a mic at an event, ask how long it will last, how long they need and if it will be edited. If it’s live, of course you just need to know how long you will have in which to fit what you need to say. If you think you are going to chat for 15 mins and it turns out you will have 3 mins, you REALLY need to retool your answers quickly. But that’s OK, you rehearsed right?
Take a lovely cooked gift
This is a tip from Sunny and Shay themselves. Take something special in to the studio to give them, not just a DVD of your film, but maybe some cookies, chocolates or cupcakes. It makes everyone feel special. I am trying 50 Kisses heart shaped cookies tonight that my lovely Lucia will bake for us. Kiss-cuits if you like!
Be yourself and enthusiastic
When interviewed, relax… you are prepared, you know what you are talking about, you have brought lovely gifts and you can now talk passionately about your film. They key is to be yourself and not to try too hard to SELL – sure you can passionately encourage people to buy your DVD, come to a screening etc., but do it with a laugh and smile, and qualify who will like it and why. Don’t just say ‘everyone will like it…’ People like to know what’s available, but they don’t like having it rammed down their throat.
Name check product
Don’t call it ‘the film’, refer to it by the title. And repeatedly so. All too often, under pressure of the ‘live moment’ we end up saying ‘in the film’ or ‘it was so much fun making the film’ etc. This is a HUGE waste of marketing value. People remember the name of your film when they hear it repeatedly. Consider they may have only been half listening when it was announced at the head of the section, and if they then get interested after hearing you talk, and then you fail to name check your film / URL / Twitter etc, you will be losing out on the very reason you are there in the first place!
Get your message over
If you feel you are not getting your message out, just steer the conversation in that direction. Ruthlessly if needed. Radio show hosts are often juggling many things and may not realise what is important to you, so take responsibility and lead the conversation if needed. Remember, they are there to spotlight you and your stuff. They want to help.
Get people to tweet and text
Live Radio is now interactive with the audience. The hosts will routinely bring in the audience via Tweets, SMS Text and email, sometimes also phone calls. So why not get your people to get involved in the conversation?
Amplify via social media
Before, during and after the piece, amplify messages on social media, always name checking they show, interviewer and station, as well as your own ‘handles’. They will in turn amplify messages for you by retweeting and Facebook liking for instance, and they likely have a large following. Plus, you are shouting about how amazing they are too, they need YOUR followers too.
Roll with it and have fun
It may not go as hoped, but just roll with it and smile. Radio is fun and your enjoyment will always come through, so go with the flow if needed. Even though your film is hugely important, you may well be a more interesting story. People like to hear about other people more than they want to hear about inanimate objects such as films. Sure the film is a talking point, but roll with it if they get personal with you – you are fascinating… IF you can be authentic! Of course still name check the film and the URL / Twitter handle etc. ;0)
After it’s over, follow up with an email or text and continue to pimp out your experience on social media. It will be noticed, and assuming you were interesting, you may have made career long friends who will invite you back next time you have a cool story to share.
Good luck and I look forward to hearing your successes on the radio!
And as a footnote, I am going on the Sunny and Shay show tonight live at 6.00 (they also came to 50 Kisses Training Day and shared enormously useful and inspiring information with the community), and so these tips are for myself as much as anyone else. I will embed the show here so you can see how I fared with my own medicine.
Onwards and upwards!