Archive for the ‘ Public Relations ’ Category

The Do’s and Don’ts of Broadcast News Interviews

Having the news media interview you or someone from your company sounds like a dream come true, huh? What many people don’t realize though, is that interviews can make or break you. A single interview can determine how the public perceives you and your company. As we all know, perception is reality – so how about grounding yourself in reality – crossing your fingers and hoping for the best isn’t going to cut it.

But alas, there are training courses on how to give a good interview, literature available online and books that you can buy to help you out. Problem is, many interviews are unexpected and on the spot.

To you, we give our top 10 tips for interviewing on camera for edited broadcast news features, clips or segments. Take this whitepaper as an overview, an outline of what to do, how to act, and more importantly, how to say what needs to be said.

1.    Do Dress Accordingly – When attending any event or company gathering, where there will be news cameras, dress accordingly. No flashy colors, weird hairstyles, bulky jewelry or overdone makeup (like cat-eyes). Depending on where you are, you might need a full suit and tie. For many casual events, consider wearing a polo shirt with your company logo on the breast. Picture being on camera from the sternum up, but don’t discount the slacks!

2.    Do Think in Sound Bites – Wherever you are, you should be able to produce a short,
9-second sound bite for the camera. Include: Name, position & company, where you are, what is happening and how this is beneficial to the community and/or the company.
For example, “I’m Jennifer Johnstone, public relations manager of evok advertising. I’m out here with the Florida Tuskers football team today as they celebrate breast cancer awareness and honor 10 local survivors on the field.”

3.    Don’t Forget Key Points – I’ve seen it dozens of times – the person being interviewed gets in their sound bite and then stares blankly at the camera. As a true advocate of your company or organization, you should be able to produce a few key points that will keep the camera on you a little longer. The better the points, the better the coverage. Hopefully your cameraman will continue asking you questions to keep you on your feet, but don’t take the extra help for granted, it doesn’t always happen.

4.    Don’t Kill the News Values – Most broadcast news interviews are used and reused over a 24-48-hour cycle. That means you may be interviewed on a Thursday and not make your big TV appearance until Saturday. Even though these segments can be edited, try not to mention the date and time that you are being interviewed. This will kill the “timeliness” of the interview, and you don’t want to mess with the news values! Also, referring to the cameraman by name is not a good idea. Broadcast news segments will stick an anchor in front of you to introduce your interview. Say his name is Tom, and throughout the interview you are referring to Bill. It won’t sound right and the public will sense something is off.

5.    Do Play the Game of Bridge – If you are a person who stays in the moment, you may start to realize that the cameraman, or even the interviewer, is not asking the right questions. Bridges serve as a nice way to acknowledge what the reporter is saying, but to link the question back to your key points. After answering a question that is close to allowing you to reach the heart of the matter, but misses the mark, throw in a bridge.
Here are some examples:
•    “Great question, but the heart of the matter is…”
•    “I would say that … is more to the point.”
•    “Another thing to remember is…”
•    “Let me add that…”
•    “…but in addition…”

6.    Don’t Speak to Your Co-Worker – When you are giving an interview, remember that you are speaking to the masses. Don’t use jargon that only your co-worker would understand, and don’t over complicate simple things. Be wary of acronyms as well. One of our clients is NMEDA (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association), but in an interview I would use the full name frequently. The rule about using the whole name first and only once, only works for print. What if the media edits out the one time you said the whole name? Chances are they will, especially if it’s true that once an interview goes on, the interviewee gets more comfortable and sounds more natural.

7.    Do Take Your Time – Rushed answers are the worst! They never will have the same effect as a well-thought out answer. When you are interviewing, remember to take pauses to think about things. Because of your adrenaline, a pause will feel like an eternity to you, but will really only be a few seconds in your interview. Also, long pauses can be edited out of the final piece. Another tactic I use when thinking of a great answer is repeating the question.
For example:
“And what strides have you made in the community thus far?”
“Well, our strides in the community have been numerous during our eight years in business. Most notably, our recent…”

8.    Don’t Play Goggly-Eyes – Before I even get into body language, let me first address the question I get most often – where do you look during your interview? There is a person, and there is a camera. What if the person is holding the camera? And the camera – what if it’s next to their face? ALWAYS stare at the person when they are holding the camera. Looking at the camera will make you nervous. If the person is holding the camera on their shoulder, it will create the illusion that you are looking at the camera. If there is a reporter on camera with you, keep your stage presence in mind. Talk to the reporter directly, but it’s okay to occasionally look at the cameraman as if they are involved in the conversation, like you would with an audience. Though you must make sure that you are not giving only half your body to the camera. Stay open.

9.    Don’t Smile Just to Smile – Everyone says to smile when you are on camera. But, be careful with this rule. I don’t want the President of So-And-So Financial Company smiling on camera as he tells me that their stocks have gone down and I’m out over 50%. I don’t want to see a giddy, smiling face make an announcement that their local mom and pop shop can no longer survive since the big guys moved in next door. I’m not saying you need to cry about it, but be sure to keep serious news, serious.

10.    Do Correct the Incorrect – While on camera, you may be presented with a question that contains an untrue fact. The goal of a good interviewer is to correct the misinformation before proceeding to answer the question.
For example: “With eight guerilla publicity stunts in only one year, does your agency believe that consumers will no longer find these stunts entertaining in 2011?” “Actually, we have produced 10 stunts this year, and as an agency we believe that as long as they stand out, and create enough hype in the marketplace to go viral, they will continue to be successful in maintaining public attention in 2011.

How to Be Worth a Journalist’s Time

Public Relations (PR), at its core, is a special type of communication used to gain earned media in broadcast, print and online channels. When proven professionals are leading the charge, PR is an invaluable component of any full-service agency and a crucial element to an organization’s professional engagement. At times, it can make or break campaigns and is often the best resource in times of crisis, lending itself to third-party credibility.

Many companies develop their own PR in house, some by typing up random contact lists for journalists at publications they’ve never read and sending out press releases through email blasts. Remember, it takes grit to harness the power of persuasion and finesse to win someone over.

To get your news published, you must be worth a journalist’s time. Here are a few pointers when considering taking on the public relations role internally.

  • It’s more time consuming and costly than you’d think. Even a mid-sized company with a 60 +/- employees and a marketing department of less than five, could spend $75,000 +/- per year in salary, benefits and overhead in a mid-sized market, plus approximately $1,000/mo. in management software such as Cision or Vocus, if done right.
  • Personalize – That means no more email blasts. Each email, letter or fax  sent needs to be personalized to the receiving journalist. Get to know their position, what they write about, and take the time to read some of their recent articles to get to know their writing style. Become a resource to the journalists, not a spammer.
  • Be worthy – If you don’t read their publication, your company probably doesn’t deserve to be in it. When corresponding with journalists, show that you know their publication and understand its value.
  • Know their and your audience – Even though many companies can’t accurately pinpoint their audience’s ethnography, the extra effort will need to be made if you want to do your own PR. Does your audience align with viewers of a particular news program or readers of a particular magazine? How do they consumer it? When? Where? Know where your audience is and take the steps to reach them “where they live.”
  • Foster a good relationship – Ruining a relationship can be easier than you may believe. In some cases, all you have to do is refer to your journalist contact by the wrong name, send them something of non-interest to their audience, fax a news release to the wrong department, misspell a word or pester to see if your release was published – and presto, you may have just lost a contact. Their time is very limited, and they look to seasoned professionals to focus the message, especially since the inundation of social media.

Although the pointers above are not inclusive of all that you’ll encounter, it’s time to move on to “your” story. Even if you have the perfect journalist at the perfect publication, do you have the perfect story? Don’t miss the mark.

  • Impact – The facts and events that have the greatest impact on the greatest number of people are, simply, the most noteworthy. Include numbers, indisputable facts and figures in your release. Without a tangible frame of reference for the media’s readership, the context may not be fully recognized by the journalist gatekeeper. They want to write about what their readers want to read. Demand is supply.
  • Timeliness – Events that happen recently are more noteworthy. Newspapers are already competing for readership with electronic media, so know when their deadlines are and work to be in front of them with a timely story, not last week’s news.
  • Proximity – Events that happen near the readers or viewers are generally more interesting. Again, context. The reader or viewer has to see or feel the impact of the release, or it may not be newsworthy.
  • Relevancy –Attempt to find a common thread between your company’s news and a current issue. A little hint is to look in the national publications and find a local angle for your company.
  • Human Interest – Stories that play to human emotions may be noteworthy. Remember to target only those writers who have written human interest stories in the past and follow their style.

Public relations is an investment that can yield significant results, yet is often the first to be cut from a marketing budget and taken “in house”–unhealthy for the organization. “Hey doctor, … cut right here?”

Don’t Stop, Look & Listen, Repeat.

Sometimes it’s best not to trust your instincts when it comes to marketing, especially if your views are shortsighted. One sure fired way to go out of business is to act like you already are—by ceasing to communicate to your target via marketing efforts, events, articles, etc.

Let’s say for instance, we instructed you to think and act in the opposite direction of your gut? That is if your gut is telling you to hibernate and come out when you sniff the first hint of blooming business. If you’re a business owner, stop for a moment and think like your customer base. Or it might be more fitting to suggest that you think of the things you would like if you were a loyal, or even wayward customer. As we’ve mentioned in past Free Ad Candy entries, handshakes and handwork are making a comeback during this technically-driven, virtual age. It’s still considered good manners to send a handwritten note to a client. Or forward articles or tidbits of good advice you think they might find useful—like this Free Ad Candy, for example. Don’t worry. Just do something. Improvise. Get creative. Run with scissors. No, of course we’re kidding.

Run, don’t hide—keep your face out there. Both your marketing messages and your actual face. Network. Attend functions. Make calls. Reach out. Spread your word (and do it with joy—start by using terms like “Glee-conomy” instead of “Gloom-onomics”). Peddle your wares. Remind people you’re still doing business—and you’d like to be doing it for them. Maybe even at a discounted price. Maybe you’ll run into someone you can partner with on a project or event—and do a little bit more together instead of doing nothing alone.

Keep your messages moving through the marketplace and more likely than not, you will still have a place in the market. Perhaps your ad spend is smaller—just like some people’s shopping lists—but people are still buying products and engaging in both required and recreational products and services. Stay in their minds so they don’t wander somewhere else, like to your competitors’. Find out what matters most to your consumer and you might just discover a way to become relevant and necessary. If it’s poop you see, find a way to be toilet paper (or a pooper scooper…foreshadowing alert). Or garbage, be a trash bag. Murky waters, become a filtration system.

As business owners and consumers are adjusting, so are the employees, households and schedules. For example, let’s take Leslie, a stay-at-home mother of two small children, whose husband owns a business that he works very hard to keep running better and better. Often working into the late hours creating new opportunities for his shop and staff so they may all stick around during such tough times, Leslie’s husband doesn’t keep a nine-to-five schedule. Similarly, Leslie’s neighbors and friends’ neighbors have also taken to staying late, picking up extra shifts or even part-time jobs. All of this creative energy and busying oneself left something to be desired…for the pets, mail and plants of these uninhabited homes. Suffice it to say, Leslie found a way to capitalize on peoples’ needs during these stressful times by filling their pet sitting needs.

Take a lead from Leslie, adjust your offerings. Or even lower prices. Be flexible in what you’re willing to deliver and how you deliver it. But overall, keep your promises and you will keep your loyal customers. Everyone is making adjustments in an effort to survive—cutting back here, investigating alternatives over there—your business’s marketing, offerings, products and services need to follow suit (or better yet, be the one setting the example). Think about the cell phone—fifteen years ago, not many people had one—but today, everyone has a cell phone, a cell phone charger (for the house, the car, the airport), a cell phone case, clip and docking station, cleaning wipes, ring tones and rhinestones. More so, as the cell phone is a communication mechanism, there’s residual income to be made—be it two-year contracts, rollover minutes, family plans or pay-per-minute use. There are à la carte plans with texting, international calling, email, you name it. How can you go à la carte? Like Newton’s third law of motion, “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” If someone puts their hand out with a need to be filled, find a way to put something of value in said hand. Chances are they’ll reach out to you again and again. Listen carefully—can you hear your opportunity calling?

Listen what’s not being said. If all you think you’re hearing is doom and gloom, you might find yourself in the midst of a self-fulfilling prophesy. There are many ways to survive and prosper in a recession. Just like in a natural disaster or depression. You need to sharpen your intuition skills—because dumb luck is unlikely. If you started your own business, most likely you have what it takes to write the script of a pilot that can get picked up by the collective network and become a hit. Get out there and find out what the customers need now to survive. Think of an idea with legs—like our pet sitter mentioned above.

Take time to make future plans. Catch up on what’s been set aside for a slow, rainy day. Clean out the closet, recycle an idea, follow up with old customers, adjust your business plan, teach a class or take a class. Once things turn around, you’ll be ready to put your new plan of attack in motion. Write articles, write blogs, get people together for panel discussions or product & service exchanges. Working out a trade agreement can work—for complementary businesses. Keep things moving and business will gravitate toward you—especially if you stay positive. Attitude can play a big part in keeping customers. No one wants to be near the negative energy in any room—particularly if it’s their free will and money we’re talking about.

Repeat your own past effective behaviors, as well as some of the greats who survived bad times—you know, when things were really bad—like when disease, plague, war and famine were real, everyday fears, before global marketplaces, the Internet, free delivery and free will. Somehow we all made it to this point—with lots of advancements in technology, science, medicine, politics and the way we advertise the newfangled things we have to offer. How can you be the next advancement in a way of thinking, doing or buying?

So, to recap, we suggest you stay your own course or find a new one you can tread during such times. Don’t let your marketing efforts go dark overnight, as advertising doesn’t work one day after it hits the marketplace. Adjust both your way of thinking and the wares you offer. Think about what your customers really want and need now—find a way to deliver it—and you’ll still have customers to serve and a business to run. Stay connected, network and keep the lines of communication open with prospective business partners and customers.

Keep forging ahead and blaze new trails. Remember, don’t stop your advertising, public relations and marketing efforts—or you’ll essentially be stepping aside and allowing your competition to play through with your caddy, your clubs and your lucky ball. So, keep playing ball. We will bounce back.