Seven Tips for Preparing for a Broadcast Interview

By: Guest | April 10, 2012 | 

You Want Me? Not My Client?

Today’s guest post is written by Allen Mireles.

Last month I was interviewed on a CBS affiliate’s public affairs program about the viral success of the Kony 2012 video. According to the Wall Street Journal, The Kony 2012 video has set the mark as the fastest spreading viral video ever.

The show’s host was interested in using the video to start a discussion about the power of social media and how it affects our daily lives.

My problem was on the day Kony 2012 was released, I was traveling to California with my younger son. We’d had a full day of hopping between rental cars, planes, and taxis before I even learned about the video. Subsequent days were filled with activity and, while I was peripherally aware of the video going viral, I simply hadn’t taken the time to view it or to learn much about it.

As public relations and marketing professionals, we understand the value of providing background information to the media. We’re accustomed to monitoring current events and coming up with creative links to our clients’ products and services. But we may not be prepared to do the interviews ourselves.

Yet those opportunities can, and will, present themselves. When they do, we should make the most of them. A successful broadcast interview can increase your reach and help build your professional reputation.

Following is how to prepare for a broadcast interview when you, not your client, will be interviewed.

Take some time to research the topic of the interview, the show, and the host of the show. Think through the “five Ws and the two Hs” of the situation and ask yourself:

  1. Who is the audience?
    Who are they interested in hearing about?
    Who do you know locally that might tie into the topic you are discussing?
  2. What topics does the host typically cover in this broadcast?
    What does he or she hope to accomplish with your interview?
    What are the facts about the topic you will be addressing?
  3. Where will the interview take place? (Make sure you know how to get there–early)
  4. When will the show be taped and when will it be aired? (Share that in social media)
  5. Why does the host want to interview you, and why is the topic of interest?
  6. How does the topic tie into the audience’s community (or does it)?
  7. How can you demonstrate your expertise and make the host look good?

So how did it go for me? Well, I watched the Kony 2012 video and other related videos, read every word on the Invisible Children website, as well as blogs, articles, and commentaries. I quizzed friends and family. I thought through the five Ws and the two Hs.

During the show, I mentioned a video project created by local high school students. Using social media, it had been viewed extensively throughout Ohio, which brought the topic back to the local level. The host was pleased and the feedback has been positive.

Remember, do your research. Practice answering the five Ws and the two Hs. Being able to answer the questions for yourself and speak knowledgeably about the topic will help you handle this with poise and confidence.

Then, just follow your own advice: Do what you tell your clients to do during interviews. You’ll steal the show!

Allen Mireles is CEO of Allen Mireles Marketing, an integrated marketing and social media consultancy based outside of Toledo, and founded in 1993 as Allen Mireles Marketing Communications. The firm has a diverse international client base in healthcare IT, manufacturing, and education. You can follow her on Twitter @allenmireles.

  • I think you nailed this, Allen. I’ve been on both sides of this equation for years, having spent 20+ years in radio and doing interviews. Preparation is key. Interestingly enough, you’ll find that many hosts don’t prepare. Larry King made a big deal out of the fact that he would never read the books by the authors who were coming on his shows. Would drive me nuts when he said that. he could get away with that, but his interviews would have been much better had he actually prepared. But as a guest, it is definitely important to prepare and know what you’re getting yourself into. I was interviewed on our local NBC affiliate as well as NPR about the KONY video and they were two very different interviews!

    •  @KenMueller I can imagine they must have been. Two entirely (although perhaps overlapping) different audiences. Thanks for your comment.

    • DallasK

       @KenMueller You don’t think Larry King had staff that would give him the bullet point discussions?  

  • BethMosher

    Nice post on this subject. I’d also add to make sure you ask if it’s just you being interviewed and if there will be others interviewed, who those people are and do your due diligence on those folks. The producers won’t always remember to tell you that there will be more than one person interviewed (though some will). In my opinion, serving on these types of panels increases the degree of difficulty of media interviews, but to your point, can be mitigated with research and practice.

    •  @BethMosher Nice point, thank you for mentioning that. I would tend to agree.

  • ginidietrich

    I love the photo of you on TV! Look at you! All grow’d up!

    • DallasK

       @ginidietrich Stop stealing my lines!

  • Really smart suggestions @allenmireles! Broadcast interviews can be tough, especially for anyone who is camera shy and will let nerves win over knowledge.
    The other big one I always remind clients NOT to do during broadcast interviews is stare at the camera. It’s so easy to want to do it, but it’s so awkward! I think it’s OK if people glance in the direction of the camera once or twice, but you should always give your full attention to the interviewer…unless you’re asked to make a direct request or plea to the viewers.

  • I am petrified of ever being on TV @allenmireles . Just getting used to being on regular video, but I’m trying to suck it up. Great tips to help prepare even ‘fraidy cats. 😉

  • patrickwagner

    great tips – thanks for sharing them

  • CloseToHomeMD

    OK, you just clinched it for me. I have been contemplating writing a blog post on the experience of being interviewed by Mike Wallace for 60 Minutes (while he was alive of course), since his was by far the most stressful interview I have ever given. You have helped me see an angle I can take. Thanks!

  • It’s a really tough call when a great interview opportunity comes up, but you feel you don’t know enough about the specific thing they want you to comment on. Great when you have plenty of time to prep, and ask everybody for views, but all too often broadcasters want something very quickly. My advice to clients when I am running media training courses: go for it where feasible, and mug up on the angle as smartly as you can. But if you know you are going to be giving ‘thin’ answers in the interview and could get caught out, this will be reputation-diminishing for you, not reputation-enhancing.

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