Mastering Media Interviews (cont'd)
So how do you actually prepare for these interviews? How do you how do you make that happen? So I have some suggestions for you guys, so the first one really valuable, and we're going to be doing this very soon when we're you know, when we're actually doing our practice interviews, so preparing for your interview, you want to create your own list of likely questions because in a general sense, you probably have an idea of what the reporter wants to ask, but there is a really big difference between kind of knowing in general what they're doing and literally sitting down and writing it and say, ok, if if I were a reporter, here are the questions I would want to ask the discipline of doing that, which doesn't even take that long. It takes ten to fifteen minutes, maybe really helps you crystallize what can I expect? Because if you're ted kennedy, look, you should probably know that if you're running for president, that maybe someone would want to know why. So it's, uh, you know, way can't ...
ever blame ourselves if we get a really, truly bizarre question, and we don't know how to answer it, but if someone asks you, why do you want to be president or, like, why did you start your business or, you know, something like that? You really want to have something that you can say to people so that's number one number two when practicing is really the only way teo teo actually make it happen it's a good step to write out the answers but if they're if they're just in your head you know it's it's hard teo really operationalize it because it's interview is a dialogue it's a conversation in real time and so if it's at all possible it's really useful to take these questions that you've written down, give them to somebody else give him to your friend, give them to your spouse and on and say hey can can we do like a mock interview and just the act of practicing is very helpful because it enables you to get the bad stuff out because, you know, inevitably you're going toe sort of flub answer or two you want to do it when you're practicing? Not when you're really doing it. So that's, that's pretty easy. The other thing that we need to keep in mind is that brevity is really important for the news. I mean certainly for tv because they cut everything down and, you know, like a segment is two minutes, so you're part of a segment in like, you know, four point two seconds or something, but just in general you don't want to ramble and the sad truth is that if you're nervous most people ramble so we need to like cut off this very human response and find ways of making sure that that we we are brief you wantto you wantto practice speaking in thirty second sound bites and you know this this sort of sounds slightly dehumanizing we go make it a sound bite but really what it is is that we want to guard against us kind of just going off in a really random direction because you wanted to be a good dialogue not just you monologue ing for ten minutes so if you a guarantee if a reporter wants more information they will ask so if you can have a good thirty seconds the answer and they say oh that's so fascinating tell me more then you khun you know you could go back and forth and have that dialogue but that way it allows them to steer the conversation to what they really want rather than having them get mad at the end because you monologue for ten minutes about this thing and it wasn't at all what they wanted to hear so how do we do this it's hard to actually know what thirty seconds feels like that's that's kind of a weird thing if you're nervous time is like sometimes it moves fast sometimes it moves slow you don't know but I would suggest that with your smart phones they all have the timer functionality now just literally set the timer and reno practice and see what it feels like, and then you can get more comfortable and you'll begin to know it intuitively and then, finally, no, your proof points. So in addition to being clear, you know where these sound bites about the key things that you would really like to get across, you know, in any interview you want to say, like, oh, wow, if you know much like your three words, right? If there's only three things that I can get across in this interview, what would they be? Well, okay, maybe it's that might be avery is having a pi day celebration, maybe it's that my bakery won an award from boston magazine last year and maybe it's that every day we have a muffin special or, you know, whatever it is, but what do your top three things? So you want to know that, but you also want to know proof points by which I mean, if if any of the things that you're saying are you really want to get across are not facts. If they're sort of opinions like, you know, we make the best chris sants in in the bay area, then you know, how do you prove it? Because if you just say, well, we make the best response that's that's nice but it's not very believable because everybody says it so if you can if you can think about ways to demonstrate the evidence that's that's kind of useful so for instance one would be if you won awards another would be if you source from, you know, really fine organic ingredients, maybe another is that you were trained at le cordon bleu. So you have these, you know, three hundred year old cristante techniques, all of those things flesh it out and give evidence to the claims that you're making and will be very useful and interesting. Two reporters so that's uh, that's something to keep in mind? And then, um what if you get this is probably not gonna happen. It's probably not gonna happen, but I'm saying this on ly to allay concerns for people that just get a little nervous about this. Okay, so what happens if there is a hostile interviewer? So what I would say is no, what you don't want to talk about, you know, if there's if there's one or two questions where it's just like, oh, jeez, I really don't want them to go there know what that is, and then if they do try to go there, know what you're going to say teo get it off that you know don't just like look stunned like ted kennedy have have a way to respond in some way and there's really there's two ways that things could go wrong in a media interview I call them the lawyers in t m I and so the lawyer way that things can go wrong is that people clamp down, you know, like like a lawyer is basically going to say don't say anything and so basically you get people on tv sometimes and they say no comment and then they look totally guilty and like they're hiding something so you don't want to do that on the other hand, you don't want to do t m I my chief example would be mark sanford, who you perhaps remember is the former governor of south carolina who pretended he was hiking on the appalachian trail and then was and he was with his mistress and uh and so when he gave a tv interview about it, he just decided he was like breaking down and crying and talking about how much he loved the woman and she's his soul mate and it just like, dude, we don't want to hear it we do not want to know this s o you want to try to strike a fine balance between these these two poles the way you do it if somebody brings up something that you really kind of don't want to talk about we could we have what we call in politics in the media world, the block and bridge strategy basically what this means you can't you can't just be like, no, I'm not going to talk about that because that looks kind of jerky, but what you can say is you try to answer it briefly and then you move forward so let's say you you own ah, bakery and, you know, just to kind of run with our example and you're having you're having a new a new celebration let's say, for fourth of july, you're giving free cupcakes to every person, right red, white and blue cupcakes, but it turns out that, like five years ago, you were closed for, you know, temporarily by the government for a health violation, and so, you know, so you're you know you've moved past it there was a long time ago, but what if they bring it up? So if they bring something like that up, what you want to dio is, you know, you want to know what how you respond, but you want to get off it really quickly so you block it, block the attack, and then you bridge to what you want to talk about, so if somebody says, well, dori it's great that you're giving away free cupcakes but you know, how can we really trust that this is a good idea because five years ago you were closed for health violation and so you know, you can say something like you know yes, you know, that's that's true and we've learned a great deal from from the experience that's absolutely in the past and we've implemented really important safeguards such a cz this this in this so it's no longer an issue but jeff, what I think america is really concerned about is getting free delicious cupcakes and let me tell you about his free delicious cupcakes tch butter frosting cream oh yes and so you've now bridged s so yeah that's blocking ridgely lovelock and bridge and yeah, thanks finally sometimes you get people who do not like what has been in the paper about them. What I will say having been a reporter don't don't complain to the editor unless unless the person has really done something horrible egregious they like invented the interview they said that there was a complete lie they screwed up in some truly profound way if there's a problem talk to that person don't call their boss because like, how would you feel if someone called your boss on you but nonetheless like a lot of people they feel so antagonistic toward the press they somehow feel entitled to do that so you're like permanently burning a relationship if you call somebody's editor yeah you have a thought about that gently see how this could apply if you have a business that has yelp reviewers because the reviewers air in a way the press s o I could definitely see how these strategies could help uh with the conversations on social media platforms where your reviewed yeah you're some awesome tips thank you say also to the dutch combined the editor thing as a journalist also even if you're a reasonable journalists if somebody complains you're today I went to the car review where I said something about the design of the gauges on the volvo and the volvo I rip complained to my editor because she knew him yes and he said, you know you sure about that? I'm like you kidding me I'm not on the show but allow me to side that again you know it wasn't even it was just so it's such an aggressive move yes but it would really have to be something super highness oh yeah teo complain to an editor dumbest thing, right? Yeah it really is it's shooting yourself in the foot but you know but some people who don't really know the media they get hot headed they talked to their friend their friends oh my god, you should call their editor it's just I mean basically that's nuclear war so so I would generally not do it unless you were so certain that this person is a sworn enemy that like you don't care if you burn that bridge so we're all going to be you know, a couple of you are going to go it on tv soon, so we're going to be practicing this so as we were alluding to earlier print interviews by which I mean literally newspapers but also blog's on dh, you know, that's that's probably the lowest stress because you you know you're not your your image is not being portrayed exactly you could just focus on the words the next level up is audio where you're on the radio where you're doing a podcast and so that way you know it's a little bit more high stakes because you have to, you know, modulate your voice and make sure that's good but it's still okay, but it's tv is the thing that I think really makes a lot of people nervous it even, you know, I mean, I give a lot of talks, but I still get a little nervous sometimes if on national tv because it's just like, oh my goodness, you know, you have that that moment, but so what are some basic things for you guys to know if you are on television or, you know, up you know on creative live or whatever you're doing it may be a video interview for a video podcast something like that here some things to know what should you wear? Why is it that newscasters and dori clark all wear very similar things with blazers I will tell you it is you know I actually do wear this in my regular everyday life as well but I'm wearing this for a very specific reason it is because on tv I want to wear solid solid colors because patterns as they resumed over the mysterious tv raise they kind of looked weird on people's television sets are on their computer screens so wearing solids is really important if you're on television if you dark colors is good too if you were wearing either black or white with the ways you know I don't know the science of this you'll have to help me but like the light rays or whatever absorption I have no idea white and black usually looks a little weird so having a dark color like a red green and blue that's a pretty good idea avoid distracting or dangling jewelry right? If you're if you're wearing like you know kind of big you know whatever necklaces or earrings or whatever sometimes there's a risk that people would be focusing on that rather than you know like a cat right it's like I want to listen to you but I see it dangling and then they get, like, hypnotized so you don't want that on your big tv moment um find out if they provide makeup or not if you know some places do if it's you know it's like sort of a big operation, they'll do they'll do make up stuff if they don't if you want to make sure you're doing it well, you, uh you may want to kind of do it yourself in advance, it's just useful and know if that's happening, why do so many people wear blazers and jackets? It is a fashion tick, it's true, we just do this because we do this, but there is also a reason, which is that for me, if I was not wearing a blazer jacket, I have a microphone on and they would have to put it here, in which case it would potentially look like a bug on my shirt. Whereas if you were wearing a dark blazer, it is almost invisible my little microphone here so so it's kind of for hiding purposes that you do that and then the other thing which, you know, I will admit, you know, at home audience I screw up sometimes is, uh, is you need teo just get a sense from the interviewer where you need to look, because that can be kind of complicated because if there's multiple cameras it's like okay do I look at the interviewer do I look at the camera? Which camera do I look at that could be a little weird so it's just it's find ask just like you know where should I be looking and then they will tell you and it'll all be good so that's that's kind of the key the key things and last thing before we switch into our actual practice interview mode off the record again something you're probably not gonna have to deal with a lot but I just I want to talk to you about it just to like prevent any problems and make you feel comfortable about it because this is something that when people mentioned their nerves about the media this is something kind of comes up what if somebody asked me to go off the record? What does that what does that even mean so here's the deal generally don't go off the record that's the easiest thing to do if somebody says can we go off the record? You should probably just be like you know probably not, but basically what this means is that a reporter wants to not quote you directly but the seo let's go off the record so they won't quote you directly but then they'll ask you like secret information where they want gossipy stuff from you and so it's a little dangerous to engage in that um I would say, you know, if you if you're like a press person on a presidential campaign, you know I had to do that a lot, but if you're not sort of trained and it can be complicated for a few reasons number one interestingly enough, there is not a commonly accepted definition off off the record even among the press a few years ago, slate magazine did a story where they interviewed reporters what do you mean by off the record? They all said different things literally sometimes it means that they won't quote you by name sometimes it means that they won't they I won't use a direct quote, but they could summarize it sometimes it means that they would identify you by your position like you know well, one entrepreneur in the bay area says blah blah, blah but you know here's here's the trick they all mean kind of different things, so if you ever do it, make sure you understand have a very explicit conversation about what is may and by it because there could be a lot of misunderstanding. And then the other thing that's really tricky is that sometimes even if the c ol anonymous isat don't worry if they anonymous is it? What if they say, well, you know, according to one bay area entrepreneur who has a creative arts business that involves stilts uh blah blah blah and then it's like who I wonder who in this room said that ditch so it's not really anonymous so you just got to be a little a little careful about that so that's just my little my little caveat for you guys so you can feel fully equipped and empowered going into your media interviews so okay the folks who are going to be interviewed by us here am I correct is a debt and samantha is that right? Okay awesome so what I would love to ask folks to do so here so here in the audience you guys have ah question cards here so if you can write in and at home I would love it if you could do this as well because we want a crowd source these questions so you remember samantha is a photographer for emerging models and also kind of general interest photography for small businesses and our debt has we saw her yesterday she went through her website she's got an event you tainment what is it? Event tv entertainment there we go thank you so much. Yes she does she does events they're super entertaining they have like cirque du soleil kind of action going on and so if you were a reporter at people at home what would you want to ask audette and samantha so we'll start crowd sourcing these questions to samantha are sorry a debt you were mentioning a moment ago that you're actually getting ready to like sort of do a press blitz can you just explain for me briefly what what the press blitz is around what the specific thing is yeah for the past nine months I've been renovating a twenty five foot airstream trailer into my kind of dreams studio slash like a v I p lounge photo makeup studio that can be rented for like weddings and small events and it's pretty much done it I'm like doing the big photo shoot on monday and you're gonna um basically put out a big try and get press coverage for it because it's never been done like they're I've done research and there's nothing really just like it so yeah it's put like all my you know all my money and creative energy into it and I'm very excited about it I love it okay so everybody here in studio at home what questions if you're a reporter would you want to ask a debt about this exciting venture that she is launching and samantha what if there was a reporter what what do you think that they would want to talk to you about? Is there a particular initiative that you're launching or some some situation where it might be likely in the next few months for you to potentially talk to a reporter? I'd like to start a program where I work with the models not just on the physical and photography point, but also like the businesses so so like helping them interacting with photographers and other retailers, designers, because I do have a financial back girl, maybe talking a little bit about, like, how to keep your your books for your business? Well, and and maybe like some, like basic planning for the future, I love it. So samantha is launching a model boot camp to help them kick start their careers and make sure that they're being financially savvy while they're doing it. So it sounds fantastic. I would love to learn more about it. So at home, what would you if you were a reporter, wantto ask samantha about her model boot camp, and so we can all right in our questions, let's get him on paper here, for me and at home, typing your questions will be great if you could, you know, mention if therefore audit or for samantha, and we're going to crowd source, and we're going to get them up on stage to do it. This is so exciting because we'll actually be able to practice some of these things that we're talking about. And so I just wanna, you know, highlight here that we were talking earlier about what makes for an interesting story for the press, you know? What do you what you pitched to the press? And we talked about the idea that it needed to be something that was new and so in both cases are debt and samantha have good ideas here because our debt has just finished renovating the airstream trailer she's launching a new initiative so that's pretty powerful samantha also launching a new program for models you know which very innovative so those are things that the press is really going to eat up I think they'll be very interested the other thing that I'll just mention in terms of what makes the press interested is the concept of what I will call being local and this could be literal you know your your weekly paper in your town could be interested because you know hey lo local woman launches new model boot camp that's that's a good story but but by local I also mean in your industry or in your field you know what? What is you know sort of local to to that profession so if I were thie editor of stilt walker monthly uh then I would say wow are dead this is amazing this is totally in my wheelhouse I want to talk to you whereas you know if I if I had a you know, much bigger or different readership you know if if I was doing something that you know if it was still walking if it was circus starts if it was you know even sort of event performances, that's, all very local, tow audette. Whereas if I was just doing a sort of general interest art magazine, well, it it may or may not s o the more local something is either in terms of geography or in terms of the sort of professional focus, then the more likely you are to really get them excited about it. So, it's, possible that yusa today might be interested in what you're doing. But it's more likely that the san francisco chronicle would be interested in it, because you're, you're more local to them.