Working with TV News
Interview Tips
Part One: Television Talk Shows
by David L. Shank, APR and Marilyn Shank, APR
Shank Public Relations Counselors

Sitting under the unforgiving lights of television doesn’t have to put you in the hot seat. Your 15 minutes of fame can be painless and effective if you follow some general guidelines. To get the most out of your interview, work with a professional. In the meantime, here’s a 30 second sound bite:

Relax. Know your subject matter and use the interview as a chance to have an enthusiastic discussion.

Dress appropriately for your topic and position. Avoid black, white, plaid, checks, shiny material and clanking jewelry.

Send background information to the host or producer, cincluding correct spelling of names and titles.

Count on being asked the basic who, what, when, where, why and how.

Think about the one point that is most important for you to get across. Practice concise answers that will let you make that point.

Think through ahead of time any hard questions that may come up. Think about how you will answer those questions if they are asked.

Arrive on time; be prepared to wait. Turn off your mobile phone.

For men: make sure you have recently shaved, wear long socks, and don’t be afraid to powder potential shiny spots (including a balding head). Tuck your suit coat tail under you before you sit down to make it look better.

For women: make sure your makeup is sufficient so you don’t look washed out, make sure your hair doesn’t fall over your face in a distracting way, and be careful of you sit.

For short interview, get straight to the point.

For long interviews, expand your explanations, avoid “yes” and “no” answers.

Know all relevent information by heart: address, telephone numbers, email address, etc.

Talk in a conversational tone. Don’t fiddle with the microphone.

Plant yourself firmly in the chair. Don’t swivel or fidget.

Look at the interviewer. Forget about the cameras.

Ignore the confusion of hte study. Concentrate on what you are saying.

Don’t look at a monitor. It will only confuse you.

When the interview concludes, stay seated and always assume the microphone and camera are on until the crew gives the all-clear.

Don’t say anything before, during or after the interview — even as a joke — that you wouldn’t want to have used on the air.