For many 2017 has been the year of Fidget Spinners, Oscar Fiascoes and Brexit however for those in the world of PR, 2017 will always be the year of one of the biggest scandals to hit the industry in decades. Bell Pottinger was one of the most respected PR agencies in the world, until its collapse in early September after its association with a controversial campaign used to stir up racial tension in South Africa. During the Newsnight interview co-founder Lord Bell was put through his paces and cracked under the pressure. He appeared flustered and unsure of how to dodge the metaphorical bullets which presenter Kirsty Wark was firing at him. Perhaps he needed some media training…
I recently attended a media taster event where my eyes and ears were well and truly opened to the intricacies of journalism and the media. During the event I had the daunting opportunity to experience being interviewed for TV and radio programmes in professional studios and hear from the journalists’ mouths what they’re looking for when they’re interviewing.
Into the Spotlight
The purpose of this was to see what it was like to be on the receiving end of an interview and to express the importance of media training. Firstly, knowing the subject you are speaking about in great depth is key, a bit obvious but it does help! I was given fifteen minutes to gather my thoughts before being thrust into the spotlight and grilled about whether The X Factor had run its course (in my opinion it probably has). But sweeping, sensationalist comments like this must be corroborated with strong facts to hold up to scrutiny from journalists.
Lights, Camera, Action!
As I stepped in front of the camera the tell tales signs of nerves kicked in; the dry mouth, your heart trying to escape out of your chest and the inevitable sweat (attractive I know!). I was assured that I relaxed as my interview progressed, however I could feel my face getting redder by the minute! It was at this moment I realised I was not going to be the next Fiona Bruce…
Face for the Radio?
Radio (in my opinion) was a more calming experience, I didn’t have to think about a lens pointing at me, where I should be looking and whether the camera would make me gain ten pounds. I was put at ease throughout the experience as myself and DJ Daz discussed the important issue of Black Friday and whether it is a bargain or a bit of a rip off (again I think the latter).
For those of you who are radio novices (like me!) you may not be aware that as you are being interviewed you can hear both your interviewers and your own voice, which makes you think ‘do I really sound like that?’ Maybe I have the makings of the next Chris Evans? Here’s how I got on…
Top Interview Tips
This overall experience has made me realise how important media training is. You might have the facts nailed, but make sure you brush up on your interview techniques beforehand, so here are five top tips for a life in the media spotlight:
- Understand the subject you are being interviewed on like the back of your hand
- Be clear and concise during an interview and always refer to your key messages
- Make sure you are prepared for challenging questions or potential pitfalls as this can make you feel more confident
- Whilst on the radio, choose your words carefully and be wary of the tone of your voice – this also applies to television, but body language and facial expressions are added factors. Take your time, talk slowly and clearly and remember to breathe!
- When on television it’s important to keep your eyes focussed on the interviewer, as rapidly moving eyes can make you look untrustworthy and unsure of your subject
Although there are many guides and tips describing how to conduct yourself in front of the media (such as mine above), there is no better way to master this art but by practicing and getting used to the sensation of being put under the spotlight. Even the most experienced of professionals can struggle during interviews, especially when they are live (anything can happen!).
The first video is an oldie but a goodie which graced our screens in 2006 and will forever be in our hearts! When Guy Goma left his house for a job interview at the BBC, little did he know that he would end up on live national news, it is certainly a day he will never forget…and neither will we!
The second video went viral earlier this year and has had over 25 million views on YouTube alone. Professor Robert Kelly was prepared for his interview, he knew his subject, he was dressed professionally; if only he hadn’t left his door unlocked…he was not prepared for what happened next!
As you can see both these videos prove that even if an interview doesn’t go your way, don’t be too downtrodden. Our media training service has helped our clients arm themselves for interviews for a decade!
If (like me), the idea of interviews will keep you up at night, give us a call and Acceleris’ team will give you the essential media tips! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the conversation started or visit our website.