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One of the most valuable things I learned from my previous job was how to own a five and, if Iwas lucky, ten minute interview. I worked as a publicist for a book publicity firm and scheduled Radio Tours. For those of you who don’t know what that means, imagine having twenty back-to-back interviews with radio hosts all over the country for approximately six hours….starting at 7:00 a.m. EST. Sounds exhausting and intimidating right? In addition to scheduling these interviews, I also coordinated the radio tours. I ensured that every interview ran smoothly, connected on time, and ended on time. More importantly, I made sure to give feedback to my client as I listened to every interview. This helped me coach my client throughout the day and I also learned what worked and didn’t work when it came to having a successful interview.
Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way:
Prepare. Inform your client about the outlet, host, market, and if you’re lucky the questions that will be asked (don’t count on it). Note: no matter how much you prepare, prepare for the unexpected and plan for possible damage control.
Draft no more than three talking points. If there are more than three, clients feel rushed to make sure every point is discussed and it makes the interview seem less conversational. Work with the client so that he can discuss the points comfortably with improvisation instead of memorizing them. This will help create a more genuine interview. If needed, index cards are beneficial but should only have key words instead of phrases in case your client forgets something. And if he does, it’s not the end of the world. Stay positive, give feedback, and move on to the next one.
This is not an advertisement. Be careful how many times your client mentions his product. If the audience wanted to watch informericals they would turn on the TV in the middle of the night. No one wants that during prime time. My rule of thumb, especially for short interviews, is to mention the product twice. Once in the beginning and once at the end as a call to action to communicate where or how to purchase/experience said product.
Smile. It’s easy to sound monotone on interviews especially if they are over the phone. By smiling clients can change the entire tone of their voice and people are more inclined to listen to a voice that is inviting.
Relax, breathe, and have fun. I’ve had clients sing on the radio, tell embarrassing stories, and some hosts have even professed their love for some clients. Just have fun. No one wants to listen to anyone that takes themselves too seriously, especially during drive time.
I’m sure this list will grow and grow as I gain more experience as a publicist, but these are just a few things I always remembered. What are your tricks for short interviews?
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