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No. 67 – Preparing for News Media Interviews – 7

April 4, 2012

Television Interviews

When preparing for a television interview, bear in mind that television reporters prefer action coverage, rather than talking heads. They may only want you on screen long enough to establish your position on an issue or the tone of the conflict. They will then cut away to on-the-scene action. Usually, they prefer action that shows people doing something, such as operating equipment. Consequently, whether your views get included in the evening news, may depend on what you provide the reporter for action coverage to illustrate the message that you want to convey.

Frame Your Response in Partnership With the Audience

While you are in front of the camera, do not forget that there is an audience watching. These are the people that you want credibility with. Therefore, as you respond to the reporter do not lose sight of the audience behind the camera. Remember the reporter is “playing to” that audience and you can do the same. This means that you will want to do some homework to identify the conflicts, issues, and values that are likely to be of concern to the television audience. Try to identify negative perceptions that the audience may hold of your organization or your activity. Develop a list of the worst things that could be thrown at you in an interview, such as critical or negative statements, and then practice your responses with a colleague. Be prepared to present your mission statement as a sound bite.

Audience Views of You

Some of the audience will like you because they identify with you and agree with your views. Some will not like you and others will be neutral. To increase your overall credibility, aim towards the neutral ones. Remember that they will look for your responses in the languages of Feeling and Sensing. Here are a few guidelines to consider:

  1. Put energy into your responses to show that you care
  2. Listen attentively; however, do not nod your head unless you agree with the reporter
  3. Pause before you respond
  4. Use natural gestures, as if you are talking with a friend
  5. Be warm and friendly, be yourself, smile
  6. Respond with feelings
  7. Decide to be non-defensive
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