How to Get and Prepare for a TV Interview

Ever wonder how to get your company featured on a Talk Show? National TV and Film Producer shares insider tips Lindsay Adams-Robbins, TV & Film producer with client list of HGTV, Entertainment Tonight, National Geographic, and many more writes the following article:

Television How To’s (and Don’ts!)

Pitch or HOW DO I GET ANYONE TO NOTICE ME?

Create a Buzz
Write a press release and send it to every media outlet you know. A good place to start is with local print media…newspaper, newsletter, trade magazine. Create a grabbing headline or highlight an intriguing element of the story….is there a current event that has ties to or has impacted your business? Have you overcome some amazing obstacles to get where you are? Does your business have some tie to the city’s history? Is your product revolutionary? Nothing gets passed up quicker than a generic press release. Make it easy for the reporter to recognize a great story. A producer/reporter is looking for the basic good story elements. Find your good story and make it known.

Network
You know how this works! You never know who you might meet so always be prepared and ready to share your story and business.

Interview Preparation or THIS IS WHEN THE WORK REALLY BEGINS

Do Your Homework
Find out as many details as you can upfront. Learn the name and format of the program, the producer’s name and contact information, the host’s name, the time the show tapes or airs, whether it is live or recorded and where you will be interviewed. If it is recorded, is it edited? What are the demographics of the show’s audience? Is the program a call-in show? Is there a studio audience? Is it a one-on-one interview? If you will be part of a panel, find out who the other panelists will be and their background. Learn all you can about the host. What is their style? Are they experienced or knowledgeable about your field of expertise? Know the topic of discussion and how long they expect you to talk. Are you in part of an ongoing series about women entrepreneurs, hosts favorite new products, etc.? Why were you chosen? (This will give you a good idea of the direction of the interview.) Send ahead as much info. as possible, press kits, graphic logo file, video footage, brochures, publicity photos, etc. Keep an eye on the current events that have relevance to your business, it might come up in the interview and you don’t want to seem out of touch with your industry. Watch the Show! Become familiar with the show’s tone, rhythm and style. Prepare your answers accordingly.

Take Control
You should know how YOU want YOUR product to show and how YOU want to present YOUR business. Make suggestions to the host or producer–for example share with them the most recent news regarding your business or a particular aspect that you are especially proud of. Suggest ways you think the interview might grab more attention. For example, a new line of clothing is best showcased with a fashion show.

Showcase Your Product and Business
If your product or business is something that can’t be shown or demonstrated in studio, ask if the studio can get some footage at your place of business ahead of time. The best solution is to have footage (BRoll) of your product you can provide. You can hire production companies to create this for you. This will be a great tool for many reasons! I can’t stress this enough. If you don’t have video of your product, get some! If you can bring your product, make sure the studio can accommodate it. Figure out the best way to demonstrate the product. Ask if you can bring someone along with you to help showcase it. For example if your product helps kids do something more easily, bring a child along and SHOW, DON’T TELL how the product works. Take a spare just in case. And don’t ever give a complicated product to a host who doesn’t know how to use it. If the host can’t figure it out, breaks it, or doesn’t get it, you’re done. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Practice the Interview
Try to see this from the hosts and the audiences point-of-view and determine what types of questions will be asked. Make a list of possible questions and answers prior to the interview. Know the answers to basic questions and prepare personal anecdotes that make you more likeable and real. Your goal is to answer anticipated questions quickly, clearly and naturally.

Make It Known!
Announce to everyone you know when your interview will air and invite each one to watch. Send out emails, bulletins, include it in your newsletter. Find out if the show streams online for people in other states or countries. Send them a link to the website. Don’t let this opportunity go unnoticed!

Interview or WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?

What NOT to wear
Look professional. Many large stations will have a hair and makeup team to help you but many local stations don’t. Ask ahead of time so you are prepared. Don’t wear white, or anything with small lines or stripes; television cameras make these patterns jump. Don’t wear turtlenecks or anything that will make it difficult for the mic. to be clipped on. You don’t want the focus to be on your clothes (unless you are in the fashion industry). Don’t forget about your socks and shoes. DON’T wear white socks, especially if you can see them when you sit down. Make sure your shoes are polished and are in good condition (a personal pet peeve!) Bring loose powder and lipstick.

Arrive Early
Try to arrive 30 minutes early to the studio/interview so you can relax, get your nerves under control and feel comfortable for your interview. This will also give you a chance to find out if any last minute changes have been made. Bring a piece of paper with your name, website, logo, contact info. to give to the control room to ensure proper lower third graphics. Meet the host beforehand to ask any questions and become familiar with her personality. Even though you have already sent this ahead of time, give the host a one-page overview describing you and your business, listing your experience, awards, recent news and contact information. This will give her something to refer to during the interview, if she needs it. Also if it is a taped interview, this information will help the producer or reporter write the story afterwards. Adjust and test any products before the interview begins. Check your appearance on the monitor beforehand, if possible. (T.V. cameras can be surprisingly unforgiving.)

During the Interview
Keep answers short, about three sentences per question. (This shouldn’t be a problem. You’ve practiced ahead of time.) The shorter the interview the more critical it is that you condense your main messages into sound bites of 10 to 20 seconds. Don’t get anxious when there is dead time and don’t feel you need to fill it, that is the host’s job. Watch your hand motions. It is better to lean slightly forward rather than slightly back. If it is a live interview and you make a mistake, correct yourself and carry on. Confidence is key! Be yourself. Be natural. Assume that you will be on the air for each and every second of the program. (Don’t make a gesture or say something you don’t want broadcast.) Anything you say to the host could be brought up in the interview. Keep the real, at-home audience in mind. Don’t look at the monitor, camera, or around the room/studio during the interview. Don’t use any high-tech language or industry jargon. Speak in lay terms. Never say “no comment.” (It sounds as if you have something to hide.) If you don’t know something the best response is, I am not sure about that but what I can tell you is…. If all else fails…SMILE :)

Post Interview or WHEW!…WHAT A RELIEF, NOW BRING ON THE BUSINESS!

Milk It For All You Can
Ask if you can get a copy of the show or interview to use in future PR. Ask if you can you get a transcript. Will this interview be rerun in future shows? If so, get the air dates and times. Is there another venue in which the interview might used? Send out announcements to your network announcing it. You want to get as much out of this as possible!

Follow Up
Developing a solid relationship with reporters, producers, and hosts is invaluable. Send a personal note thanking them for the opportunity, include updates on reactions and responses from viewers, offer to serve as a source of information for future programs and share any ideas you may have for future topics.
Call your friends, family, or colleges (honest ones preferably) who watched the interview and ask them for feedback. Figure out what you did right and what you can improve on. Now that you have one down, there will surely be more to come.

BEST OF SUCCESS!!

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10 Responses to “How to Get and Prepare for a TV Interview”

  1. Erika Wilde on March 13th, 2008 9:20 am

    Lindsay,
    You really went above and beyond with this timely and oh-so-helpful handout. It’s one thing to hear it from you on the panel, but to have this info written out to take home is just awesome.

    Thank you for sharing your time and expertise.

  2. Ruth Bentley on March 13th, 2008 12:25 pm

    This is great information. Thank you so much for sending it to me. It really helps to have this information on hand so I can refer to it again, and again!

    Thank you so much!

  3. Deborah Gardner, One Heart Bulgaria on March 13th, 2008 10:10 pm

    Great post! I have a question. First of all, there have been several newspaper and magazine articles written about my non-profit organization and the work I do in behalf of Bulgarian orphans. With so much interest from the public, why no TV interview offers? What do you suggest I do to really get the organization in the spotlight? Thanks for your time.

  4. Celest Benn on March 14th, 2008 7:21 am

    What timing I was just cruising through startup princess and saw this wonderful article you wrote. I can’t tell you how you calmed me down. I do my very first ever television interview April 24, 2008. It will be a local to Connecticut morning show and then the following months will follow with national coverage. I really appreciate all your advice. Celest Benn http://www.freebirthdaystuff.com founder and stay at home mom.

  5. Jamie Bird on March 20th, 2008 12:29 am

    Boy, I wish I would have had this a year ago when the local news came for a feature. Talk about nervous!

    Thank you for this awesome post. Detailing this makes me know that if I am ever featured in the future, I will be better prepared!

  6. Sanyika on July 16th, 2008 8:26 pm

    Lindsay, your points are right on target!

    A little less than a year ago, I made a commitment to actively integrate media – specifically TV publicity – into my marketing strategy I needed to get my message out and have more impact in a crowded marketplace (personal finance)

    Quickly I learned that leverage (or as you say “milking it”) is the best and actually ONLY way to make it pay off. Now I have more than 40 TV appearances under my belt and regularly appear on TV at least twice a month.

    It really isn’t hard to get booked on TV – your tips just reinforce that – thanks for sharing this great insider perspective.

    Move over Suze Orman…make room Dave Ramsey…

    Sanyika Calloway Boyce
    International Speaker & Top Selling Author

  7. Autumn Brooke Hartt on March 12th, 2012 8:16 pm

    I’m 16.
    I’ve written a children’s book on self-esteem and adversity.
    I’ve overcome dyslexia and my own battles with self-worth and I want to tell my story on local TV and radio in the Dallas-Ft Worth area, but how do I even find out who to send my stuff to? I was looking for a way in the door when I read your article. You had tons of good ideas. So, how do I get my foot in the door?

  8. Chantal Nouvellon on May 12th, 2012 5:22 pm

    Hi

    I am starting a TV show on de stigmatising Mental Illness. I am interested in having my own recording studio that I am purchasing and set up vidoe of interview of a my patients who almost died but lived because I gave them hope.
    They asked me to let them talk on TV to share their story.
    Can you give me advice on where to send the copy of the first interview?
    Thank you
    Chantal Nouvellon
    Child and Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist.

  9. amrita on January 7th, 2013 9:53 pm

    hi can you help me to prepare for health interrview for tv i need some tips thanks

  10. norma's Bath and body on March 17th, 2013 8:50 pm

    Whew! glad that I seen this post because I have my 1st television interview locally about my bath and body business. thank you!!!

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