There is no doubt we have all seen the interview on the BBC World News with Professor Robert Kelly – an American academic and expert on Korean relations – where his two children interrupt him, live on air. If you haven’t seen this hilarious clip, do yourself a favour and click here. It’s a whoopsy moment you want to avoid.
While the interview was only intended for international audiences interested in world politics, the clip gained coverage on mainstream media not for the interview itself, but rather the humour produced as a result of Prof. Kelly’s children barging in. Although the video was taken as light-hearted entertainment, it serves as a reminder that video interviews from home – especially those that are recorded live – can go wrong and it is in your best interest to prepare. This is particularly relevant currently as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold and we are working from home.
The Profiler PR team specialises in preparing our clients for media interviews. While your product knowledge, what is a good key message and how to effectively deliver your message are key to the success of any media interview, there are some other things to take into consideration – ones that can often be overlooked.
We have put together the following list of things to think about to ensure a successful interview from the comfort of your own home:
Check – and double check – your audio
Audio is arguably the most important aspect of your media interview and should be the first place to check – and check again – that everything is working. If you are conducting an interview via platforms such as Skype or Zoom, ensure your computer or smartphone is not on mute and that the volume is at a suitable level. You can test this before starting your interview using both platforms. Use of a microphone or Apple headphones is also a great option to consider as these will pick up your voice much clearer than the computer alone.
It is also worth ensuring there is no background noise in your immediate area. We recommend conducting your interview in a room where the audio can be controlled and remain uninterrupted by construction works, passing cars and emergency sirens, the hum of radio and television, conversations between other people, and your dog barking at the postman as he rides past on his motorcycle. If you are conducting your interview while your family is at home, simply advise your loved ones ahead of time that you will be speaking with the media and require minimal interruptions during a certain timeframe and that you will be using a specific room (to save them walking in). Shut the door and, if you need, lock it to prevent similar situations as experienced by Prof. Kelly.
You should also ensure your phone is on silent and notifications are disabled on your computer to further avoid unnecessary interruptions – and this also includes disabling any alarms.
Don’t forget to turn your phone(s) on silent too. Have your mobile nearby in case the interviewer calls, but you don’t want to have it ring during the interview.
Adjust your posture and appearance
While your media interview is being conducted in the comfort of your own home, that does not give you a free pass to wear your pajamas on television. Ensure you are wearing appropriate business attire or a branded uniform. You should also style your hair and makeup (for the ladies) as you would any other day at work, or for any other media opportunity. You are representing your brand and your business and therefore it is important to look the part if you want to be taken seriously.
You should also be mindful of your posture and mannerisms at all times during the interview. Sit up straight with your shoulders back (in other words, don’t slouch) and look directly into your camera. Don’t fidget, either place your hands in a comfortable position or use them to compliment your speech, as you would in any other conversational setting. Simply, image you are on television and act accordingly.
Backgrounds are important
If you are opting for a video interview as many are in this COVID-19 environment, it is important to consider your choice of background. Ensure whatever backdrop is in view behind you is reflective of your brand. We suggest utilising media walls or banners featuring your logo to maximise exposure for your business. You can have media walls and banners made for you using local printing companies as well as Officeworks and Vistaprint for a small cost (Can be as little as $90-350 depending on size and complexity of design). You can also download generic or upload personal virtual photo backgrounds on Zoom and other online meeting platforms.
If you do not have access to a banner or media walls, select a space like your home office where there is a relatively blank canvas that will not interrupt the viewers’ perspective and allow them to focus on you. If you do have items in the background ensure they tell the right things about you (qualifications and plants are good), and that the space is tidy and you don’t have anything inappropriate in the line of vision (think: a bottle of Vodka your friends got you for your birthday, a mug with interesting language or a sexy artwork. It is also important to check you have good lighting so your face is clearly visible with no shading so viewers can see as well as hear you clearly.
Also, if working from home as many of us currently are, lock your door if possible and advise your family that you cannot be disturbed until you open the door again. A reminder note on the door is also a good idea.
Preparation is the key
As with all interviews, preparing for your media moment is important. We recommend you review and lockdown your key messages ahead of time, so you can recall and repeat them easily. You should also research alternative views on the topic of interest to the journalist, so you are prepared for potential questions on how you stand on the issue. If possible, ask the journalist prior to the interview for a list of suggested questions they may pose so you can tailor your answers while integrating your key messages.
It would also be worth writing down your interviewer’s name, media outlet and position on a Post-It note and placing it in your line of sight, so you do not forget it. Your key messages could also go on separate Post-It notes as gentle reminders.
Finally, you should aim to login to your chosen platform at least 5 minutes ahead of the scheduled interview time to do your final checks: audio, visual and connection, then just relax into the chat as though talking to a trusted friend.
Need help preparing for an upcoming media interview or to know what media you should be appearing on or in? We are experts in positioning businesses and individuals for growth, and have a wealth of experience in media training and preparation that has been invaluable to our clients. Contact us today to find out how we can help via firstname.lastname@example.org