You said what on camera?! Stepping in front of a camera or being questioned by a reporter can often result in a “lights on, brain off” scenario. Preparation, practice and more practice are essential when it comes to interviewing, which is why many PR agencies offer something called media training, which takes clients through mock-interview situations to help them react positively under pressure. While you may be prepared for the typical, expected questions: “What was your design inspiration?” or "How did you get started?" Sometimes it’s the simple questions like, “How old are you?” or even "In this economy, who can really afford your designs?" that may throw you off and result in a stuttering mess, blank look, or the worst shade of red to creep upon your cheeks. Even if you don't have the benefit of a full session of media training, adhering to the three “Cs” are a great way to focus and get yourself prepared.
The 3 C's of Media Relations
- Ever seen a nervous interviewee? Feel for them, don’t you? This person either skipped the media training and practice, or needs more of one or both! Even if you’re not on camera, being nervous can make for an awkward interview. Your goal is to be comfortable, and this takes practice and time. There are few people who are immediately comfortable speaking in front of the camera, with reporters or to a large crowd. Practicing helps tremendously. Give yourself time that you can set aside, practicing interview questions with a friend or taking the tips from your media training session, so that you can get yourself comfortable.
- A great reporter will make you feel like you’re chatting with a friend. The downside may be…you feel like you’re chatting with a friend! While you want to be comfortable, sometimes that casual feeling may have you saying something you wouldn’t normally say to a stranger (let alone a couple hundred thousand) or something you wouldn’t want to have aired or published. If you’re practicing with a friend, ask them to throw in some unexpected questions so that you hear and/or see your response and reaction. You may be surprised at how quickly your train of thought (or common sense) can head down another track with an unexpected question.
- The quickest way to be confident is to be knowledgeable about your subject matter. Talking about the economic crisis or car engines might not be your forte. The latest trends, color swatches and your muse? You’re all over it, natch. It doesn’t hurt to research information or recent news stories related to topics that you’ll be discussing so that you can incorporate useful information and actively participate in your interview. The most interesting interviews are filled with great information and it helps when the deliverer is confident about the topic.
Media training is less about being getting over being shy and more about presenting a great image and your intended message, while under the somewhat jarring experience of bright lights or a microphone in your face! You don’t want to leave an interview feeling like you didn’t say what you wanted or wish you had said something differently. When you practice and go in with a focused message (e.g. I want to promote my 2010 collection which will be featured at the art gallery this weekend), you can tailor your communication and quotes to push that point across during your interview. If media training is not in the budget, practice, practice, practice is imperative. Record your practice sessions with a digital or video recorder so that you can track your progress and note areas that may need improvement or perhaps that you’ve progressed. The balance between comfort, common sense and confidence are essential and those elements can lead to a great media interview. After all, you’re fabulous – who wouldn’t want to interview you?!