PR Tips For Securing A TV Segment

In PR, broadcast pitching is sometimes underused and overlooked when it comes to securing coverage for clients. From national outlets like CNN, Fox Business or the Today show to local affiliates, a solid broadcast segment can make a lasting impact. Broadcast segments typically have a large and high-quality reach in real time, and they live online and are searchable thereafter. Most PR teams will amplify segments on social media for further exposure.

When pitching broadcast outlets it’s important to note the main differences between the medium and print, and to offer producers the information the need for potential segments. Here are some top PR tips for scoring top broadcast stories.

Make it relevant

No matter what you’re pitching, to gain a producer’s attention, the subject matter must be topical and newsworthy. Pay attention to the news cycle and breaking stories – can you tie your client into a relevant headline? You may be able to use a current topic in the news cycle for your client/brand, but bear in mind that a spokesperson must be ready to open their schedule for a segment on short notice. Producers and guest bookers work on very tight deadlines, so a fast pitch and even faster response are often essential.

Local vs. national

Are you pitching local news or national? For local affiliates, it’s best to tie the story into a local angle, as that’s what local outlets cover. When you want to target a specific part of the country, regional broadcast is the way to go. National segments are reserved for wider announcements that typically appeal to a national audience, of course. Producers and assignment editors are looking for stories that tie into current news. So if your news isn’t a big story, find a way to tie it to the flow of the news to add the hook for the producer. In our work promoting new COVID-19 diagnostic products, we’re naturally looking for local news outlets where the virus has spiked, which are unfortunately all too common. For a more business-oriented story, you may want to pay attention to regional statistics on employment, spending, and consumer confidence, for example.

Spell it out

When pitching a producer, make the necessary segment points clear. Before the producer even has to ask, you should provide information needed such as expert spokesperson bio, images, b-roll, company description or boilerplate, sample talking points and links to previous interviews the spokesperson has done so the producer can see how they appear on camera. Give the producer any relevant information to make them understand the who, what, and why of a potential segment. Providing any necessary information upfront is more likely to draw the producer’s attention and approval and save on subsequent back-and-forth email exchanges. 

Use the newsdesk

Always send the pitch and relevant news directly to the station’s newsdesk. The newsdesk is the department of a broadcasting organization responsible for collecting and reporting the news. The reporters at the newsdesk make sure any relevant/interesting news that comes in is presented in the station’s morning meeting and possibly selected for segments. It’s important to pitch your story early before the stations have their daily meetings. If you don’t hear back from them, pick up the phone and call them to make sure they received your email!

Know the producers beat

As with any kind of media pitching, it’s best to take the time to research and learn who would be the best person(s) to receive your pitch instead of blasting the pitch to a wide list of contacts. Research the producers, review their last segment, and find out what they typically work on that might be a fit for your story. You can even personalize your note and mention their latest segment in your email. This will help your pitch stand out and they’ll realize that you took the time to do some research before sending a “cold” email. A strong first impression can help build a lasting relationship which may mean additional segment opportunities – a win-win.

Follow up

Producers receive many pitches in a given day, and it’s hard to keep track of everything they receive. They may be interested in your story but get quickly sidetracked by another email or query. There’s a school of thought that PR people shouldn’t bother media after sending a pitch because they risk being annoying. But in the real world, we recommend following up, and if you don’t hear back, consider a phone call. If you have a quality story idea in mind, it will pay to be respectfully persistent.

A PR Pro’s Letter To Santa Claus

Dear Santa,

What a crazy year it has been. We started strong but were hit with a big curveball. We adjusted, thinking all would be back to normal within weeks. How wrong we were! 

This holiday season will look a little different from years past, but we’re hopeful for new beginnings in 2021. On behalf of PR people everywhere (or at least my peers and me), here is our wish list: 

Valuable stories in top-tier publications 

A top earned media story for a client always feels like a gift — even if we strategize and work for it for weeks at a stretch. But we’re greedy for more! Our wish list includes high-level stories in top business and tech media outlets that advance client goals. Sometimes it’s all about quality over quantity. 

A finalized press release after a single round of edits

Every PR person dreads edits to a complex announcement release that’s subject to full team review. Take a partnership release; often it goes through multiple rounds of edits and back-and-forth conversations on language and messaging. We’d welcome hearing the magical words “This can be marked as final” after one round of edits.

An increase in engagement across all social media accounts

Earned media is our bread-and-butter, but social sharing is the fastest way to create a two-way conversation with potential customers and partners. (It’s also a great way to amplify our earned stories.) We’re banking on a boost from Santa (and some creative tactics) to help our team achieve a healthy increase in engagement or followers for our social accounts. How about 50%?

More speaking engagements for execs at industry events

Executive visibility is an important piece of the PR program puzzle. As any good PR person knows, it can help establish credibility for a C-level executive among industry peers and be part of an effective thought leadership campaign. One way to do this is through keynote and panel speaking opportunities at industry events. 2020 saw in-person conferences move online, but our experts are still in demand. Let’s continue this momentum and highlight our executives at high-profile events – maybe even in-person!

A healthy number of new business wins

There’s something exciting about getting a fresh RFP from a prospective client. It gives us the opportunity to display expertise, brag about past work, and strategize for high-growth B2B companies in the tech space. Help us seal the deal with new prospects for successful partnerships in 2021. 

A return to office life 

Speaking for myself, this has been a tough year working from home. PR pros are traditionally social people, and most of us thrive when we can see co-workers every day. 2021 looks promising, and we’re hoping to be reunited after many long months. I think even the introverts among us are hoping for this gift.

Happy Holidays and here’s to a year of hope and possibility in 2021!

PR Hits And Misses Of 2020

It’s that time of year — when observers trained in PR and reputation weigh in on the brands and personalities who made news in good and bad ways during the year. But 2020 is different from previous years. Many stories that might otherwise have made news were overshadowed by two monsters — the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S. presidential election. Each had legs, to put it mildly, and both knocked an untold number of things out of the virtual headlines. And each had a huge wave effect that spilled into new stories over the year. Here, then, is my list for the PR best and worst of 2020.

The PR Worst

Mike Bloomberg

New York’s three-term mayor soared in visibility – and popularity – when he entered the democratic presidential field in late 2019. Fueled by an advertising war chest that only a billionaire could amass, Bloomberg climbed quickly in the polls, only to fall to earth after a poor debate performance in February. Rivals criticized him in harsh and personal terms over his mayoral record and infamous “stop and frisk” policing policies. At the same time, accusations of disrespectful behavior to women he employed at his namesake company resurfaced. To add insult to injury, he reneged on a pledge to pay campaign staff through November of 2020 even after exiting the race. In reputation terms, it added up to a $900 million black eye.

Rudolph Giuliani

Maybe Bloomberg will take solace in the fact that his problems were nothing compared to those of another former New York City mayor. Giuliani’s image deterioration began years ago, when even allies noticed his odd behavior and thirst for media coverage at any cost. But this year was a doozy. The former 9/11 hero was in the news for all the wrong reasons – habitually butt-dialing reporters, being punked in humiliating fashion by Sacha Baron Cohen, and presiding over the infamous Four Seasons Landscaping press conference. But the most indelible image might be the one of the presser where a sweating and irrational Giuliani railed about a “rigged election” with hair dye running down his face. It was a sad comedown for America’s mayor.

Quibi

It’s almost like Quibi never really had a chance. The mobile streaming service’s biggest mistake wasn’t really in its PR presentation, but it may have been the victim of its own hype. On the plus side, it offered an A-list roster of talent and the pedigree of its founders. Yet Quibi’s timing was exquisitely bad; it was launched as “on-the-go” content in quick bites at the precise time when we weren’t going anywhere. It could have pivoted much more quickly. It waited until summer to enable device support beyond mobile, and in October it released apps for TV-streaming devices. It also hurt that Quibi viewers couldn’t even screenshot shows until late summer. That may seem silly, but meme creation and social sharing for shows could have been powerful, and it all came as too little, too late.

McKinsey

McKinsey has already weathered reputation hits due to its role in the opioid crisis, but the news got worse in 2020.  The most chilling detail? The New York Times broke the news that the storied consulting firm suggested rebates be paid to pharmacy companies whose customers overdosed on OxyContin. McKinsey is clearly taking the situation seriously; it offered a rare apology for its efforts to “turbocharge” profits from OxyContin sales for Purdue Pharma, which has pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to its opioid marketing. For McKinsey, it’s the worst year yet and a sign that only a fresh start and clean executive slate will restore its reputation.

Brand America

The shambolic handling of the COVID pandemic, the nativist retrenchment from the world stage, and ongoing allegations of a rigged election haven’t exactly done America proud. If those headlines were about another country, we’d probably be shaking our heads. I’ll leave it to diplomacy experts to calculate the damage to U.S. “soft power” wrought by the demoralized and decimated state department, but there’s surely a loss of prestige for us abroad. It’s hard to be a role model for democracy, innovation, and efficiency with the track record we’ve earned in 2020. Let’s hope good old American inventiveness and business leadership will help us rebound in 2021.

The PR Best

Healthcare workers

Our frontline healthcare workers, among many others on the front lines of the COVID pandemic, are still under pressure as the virus spikes yet again. Yet 2020 has brought recognition for the thousands of overworked and undervalued staffers in our hospitals and healthcare facilities. The N95-marked faces of those who put themselves at risk to heal others is one of the most unforgettable images of the year.

America’s governors

The administration never seemed to have a clear strategy for managing COVID, and its communications was rife with mixed messages and a disastrous politicization of basic protective measures like use of face coverings. It was left to America’s governors to lead constituents through the crisis, and many proved up to the task. New York’s Governor Cuomo impressed with his clear and coherent daily briefings; as I wrote back in March, what seems like bluster and dogmatism on an ordinary day rises to resolute leadership when people are scared. Ohio’s Mike DeVine brought tough love and real talk to his management of the pandemic in Ohio. Many state leaders really met the moment.

TikTok

Remember when the kids were worried that TikTok would be banned in the U.S.? That didn’t happen, thanks to a convoluted transaction involving Oracle and Wal-Mart. In a strong use of proactive PR to change the narrative,  TikTok GM for the U.S. Vanessa Pappas showed both savvy and PR smarts in her handling of the situation. First, she ignored her own “interim” title and stepped up as US communicator-in-chief, responding quickly to the proposed ban with a video message for TikTok fans as well as regulators. Pappas also called on competitors like Instagram to unite in opposing a download ban as a certain impediment to growth for all players. “We’re here for the long run; continue to share your voice here and let’s stand for TikTok,” she wrote. And while TikTok isn’t out of the woods, its popularity has skyrocketed and its position as a meme maker and platform of choice for the next 15 minutes at least is assured.

Zoom

Bottom line, Zoom was there for us when we needed it. There are better video conference services, and there are certainly more secure ones, but Zoom really delivered when it counted. It scaled rapidly to accommodate surge use, responded quickly to customer concerns, and emerged as the user-friendly leader in a previously commoditized category. Most importantly, its management conveyed concern and took responsibility in the face of technology failures and moved swiftly to correct them. That’s not easy. The human and accessible tone of the brand’s communications really helped millions of new work-from-home teams stay connected, to say nothing of schools and families. Well done.

Pfizer and Moderna

In PR, nothing succeeds like innovation, and first-movers get to claim credit for the long run. Both biopharmaceutical brands earned their status with extraordinary stories of innovation in 2020. Pfizer in particular gets plaudits for the skillful telling of the story of partner BioNTech, founded by the married scientists who are children of Turkish immigrants to Germany and who went on to create the groundbreaking mRNA vaccine against COVID-19. The Sahin-Tureci backstory was a stunning culmination to the race for a vaccine against the ravages of the virus and a real tonic for our weary and cynical souls.

Three Questions A PR Person Should Never Ask A Reporter

As a PR pro, you are constantly communicating with reporters, whether it be pitching, coordinating interviews, or interacting on social media. Staying in contact with relevant contacts is one of the most important aspects of PR. But to maintain these valuable relationships, it’s vital to remember your role and not overstep boundaries. Here are several questions a PR professional should never ask a reporter. 

“Can we have the questions in advance?”

You’ve drafted the perfect pitch, sent it to relevant targets, and now you’ve secured a media interview. Your job is done, right? Not quite. Now it’s the responsibility of the PR person to make sure the spokesperson is as well prepared as possible, including any tough questions the reporter might ask. 

On the PR side, it is best practice to try to anticipate interview questions in advance. This is done by reviewing the reporter’s background, beat, recent articles, any previous conversations you have had, and the tone of conversations to date. Based on this research, PR people typically draft a set of potential questions and may even conduct a practice interview with the client in advance. This idea is to give them as much comfort as possible and produce a positive interview. 

Yet there’s one question PR people shouldn’t ask a reporter: “Can we have the interview questions in advance?” 

This is doubly tricky because many companies, including clients of ours, might reasonably want to know this. Naturally they want to be ready for the exchange. But asking this of a reporter isn’t a good idea. It’s not the journalist’s job to prepare the interviewee, and it looks amateurish.

Preparing for a media interview is almost like getting ready for a final exam – while you don’t know the exact questions, with a bit of research and some homework, you can anticipate most of them and, above all, prepare your own messages and story.

“So, when is this piece going to run?” 

Asking this isn’t terrible, but it can be presumptuous in some circumstances. 

If the reporter has made it clear that a piece is in the works and your comments will be included, it’s important to understand that media have jam-packed editorial schedules and tight deadlines, especially during news cycles filled with breaking stories. Asking a journalist when a certain piece will go live is a little like asking what the weather will be like next week – there may be no real, definite answer, because things change. Sometimes reporters will keep a story in queue for several months, as more urgent, timely pieces have to get out first. 

Rather than continuously following up with the reporter, the PR best practice is to be patient and monitor for it. Keyword alerts and a daily browse of the publication (which we should do anyway) help flag the story as soon as it’s published.  

“Can we see the story before you publish?”

If a journalist has confirmed that a story including your spokesperson’s interview comments is planned, the worst question a PR person can ask might be, “Can we read the story before you publish?” 

Most respectable media outlets will be offended by such a request. Journalists are objective, and offering the story for review can be seen as an invitation to edit or change it, casting doubt on that objectivity. It’s also presumptuous and betrays a lack of understanding of the journalism process. And if they do it for you, they’ll have to do it for everyone — not realistic even if they’re willing! 

Of course, a reporter may contact us to check a quote or verify information, and many publications undergo a rigorous fact-checking process for longer articles. But in general the reporter is relying on us to be accurate the first time. If you’re concerned about quotes during the interview, ask to have them read back to you in that moment. No one wants to get it wrong, which is why PR people work hard to make sure any information we share is accurate and thorough. 

Yet there are times to be assertive

Of course, there are times when a PR representative needs to be assertive with a journalist or push back with requests in our clients’ interest. It may be during tricky negotiations over ground rules for an exclusive interview with a C-level executive, or on the rare occasion when important information is misconstrued or inaccurate. 

A sensitive announcement or a high-stakes interview that impacts corporate reputation may require additional oversight from the PR person to ensure all facts and quotes are accurate. 

Reporters are helping us, not the other way around 

In PR, it’s helpful to foster meaningful and lasting relationships with relevant media contacts. A solid relationship helps ensure you’re top-of-mind when a journalist or producer needs expert commentary for a piece, an introduction to your company or industry, or a quick quote. Being strategic with your communication is key. Overly aggressive pitching, too many follow-ups, or a request to bend the rules will not make you popular. 

How To Make A Killer Content Calendar

In PR, a content calendar is a key part of any public relations plan. For B2B clients like those we represent, it can include the topics and suggested resources for bylined articles, blog posts, social media posts, digital video, and longer-form content like white papers, among other elements. A good content calendar is like a roadmap that helps a brand tell its story. Here are some ways to construct a killer content calendar and get the most out of it.

Start with tentpole events and initiatives

Winging it is not an effective strategy, and taking the time to create a full content calendar will save time and alleviate stress in the long run. When building your calendar, start with upcoming company tentpole events and announcements, then fill in the rest according to seasonal marketing activities and anything else you find relevant. After, you can build out the corresponding content. 

For example, you may plan for a company’s product launch to generate a press release, a social post linking to the press release across social channels, a social post with a top media placement across social channels, and an in-depth blog post for the company website. For social media specifically, quality and quantity combined make for the highest engagement. Companies that publish more than 16 posts a month typically generate three and a half times more traffic than those which publish less than four. Meaning, there should be frequent posts, varying in topics from article promotions to National Cookie Day, if you could think of a way that it’s relevant to your brand. Looking into lesser known holidays that may be relevant to brands in advance can make for fun social media posts!

Be sure to space out announcements

Content calendars are a visual way of seeing what’s in store for the future, making them effective for planning. Seeing all of a brand’s initiatives on paper makes it more obvious if announcements are scheduled too close together, or whether messages compete or overlap. Ideally, you want your messaging to be a progression; for example, a funding announcement, followed by senior-level hires, after which an ambitious new company initiative is unveiled. If news items aren’t planned carefully, the company’s announcements may not get the attention they deserve. Of course, a good plan will take into consideration major news-generating events like Election Day, for example, which should be avoided. Yet most external happenings are unpredictable, so it’s best to build in flexibility but not stress over unexpected events. 

Refresh with formal creative sessions

You may be surprised by the new ideas you can generate when you schedule the time to sit down and think. Throughout the day, projects and deadlines may keep us busy, but forcing a focus on new ways to tell a brand’s story for the next month or quarter can give way to a productive brainstorming session, particularly if you have it with other team members. However, make sure that your meeting is a productive use of time for everyone (a recent study from the Harvard Business Review found that 71% of senior managers said meetings in general are unproductive and inefficient.) During the brainstorm session, do not shut down any ideas, no matter how far-fetched they may seem, as you never know which remark can plant the seed for a great idea. Other tips for a productive brainstorm include coming prepared, creating a time cap, and taking thorough notes.

Measure performance daily

You can actually keep track internally of how many stories a particular company announcement garnered, or how well a social media post performed, right in your content calendar. Of course, every content calendar is different, but tracking the numbers right in the doc may work as a way to stay organized. You can even set goals, and if you fall short, adjust accordingly for the next quarter. Besides Excel and Google Sheets, some other tools for creating content calendars include monday.com, Smartsheet, and Wrike.

Park future ideas so nothing is lost

You can make the most out of your content calendar by using it as a live document and keeping it constantly updated. It’s best to do a formal update once per quarter, according to the business or marketing plan, but you may choose to refresh it far more often. In addition to planned content, you can establish a “parking lot” for ideas and potential topics that may not fit in at the moment but can be useful later. It’s also effective to list social keywords for each piece of content to all creators are on track.

Include client quotes or thoughts

If you plan to newsjack an upcoming event, it can be helpful to get quotes or thoughts from the brand in advance, to be used for a future blog post or even reactive commentary. This can be stored right in your content calendar. By keeping all relevant materials together in one doc, you can prevent these thoughts from getting buried in your inbox. The nature of newsjacking is such that most often you won’t know the news in advance and you’ll have to act swiftly for your brand to be included in media coverage. Yet if you do happen to know of any events that may be relevant, then it’s great to be prepared.

Include competitive messaging

It may make sense to keep track of competitive content or even media coverage in your content calendar, in a separate tab. This makes for easy visualization for how your brand’s messaging and tone should stack up compared to competitors. After all, what we do is all about differentiation. 

Planning and time management are very important in PR, so any system to help stay on track and on schedule is useful. Don’t be discouraged if some ideas are scrapped as things move around – you may even be able to use that content later on! 

Crenshaw Communications Welcomes Lila Harihar!

2020 has been a long year, but we love sharing good news to put a smile on everyone’s face. Our Crenshaw family has gained a new member! On December 1, 2020, our partner Chris Harihar and his wife Lisa welcomed a beautiful and healthy baby girl, Lila Max. Mom and Dad are settling in with Lila as she will quickly learn how to draft a press release and pitch media.

We are so excited for this new chapter of your family and cannot wait to meet her. Congrats to the Harihar family! 

Slack Tips And Tricks You May Not Know (But Desperately Need)

In major tech news, Salesforce recently purchased Slack for $27.7 billion. Why does the sale make sense? As we’ve seen, Slack is great for staying connected with co-workers on a daily basis. According to a recent TechCrunch article, the Salesforce COO says that the deal was worth the price because it lets Salesforce bring together all the pieces of their platform. It’s a platform that has expanded over the years from pure CRM to include marketing, customer service, data visualization, workflow and more. Slack gives Salesforce a missing communication layer on top of its other products, something especially important when interactions with customers, partners or fellow employees have become mostly digital.

How Slack helps PR pros

PR pros are communicators. Emails are a great way to communicate, but they’re rarely the fastest. Slack cuts down on email back and forth and helps us work faster and smarter. At Crenshaw, we Slack on a daily, even hourly basis about everything. But there are so many tips and tricks people aren’t using that could help them work harder and smarter. Check out some Slack tricks you should know.

Go mobile – This one’s a no-brainer. Download the Slack mobile app for iOS and Android. Slack’s mobile app should always be at your fingertips. It is especially helpful if you are away from your computer and need to quickly communicate with your team. 

Highlight keywords – If you’d like to be notified for necessary messages and avoid the unnecessary ones, consider setting specific keywords to let Slack notify about them.

Reminders with Slackbot – Slack has built-in time-based reminders that can cue you to events on your calendar. If you have a meeting at 3 pm and are extremely busy in your working schedule, then instead of keeping it in your mind, you can set your meeting schedule on Slackbot and get it before the meeting starts. You can also set daily reminders like to log hours everyday at a certain time so you don’t fall behind! 

Pin important messages – If you want everyone to pay attention to an important message, just pin it! This is much easier than sending the same message to everyone separately and it will also be easily accessible at a later date and time. 

Integrate with apps – Slack has a wide app catalog for users to integrate into their daily workflow. Some of my fave apps are: Harvest, to log hours right on Slack, Zoom, to start a meeting faster, and Google Drive, for notifications that a doc is being edited. Check out the full app library

Do Not Disturb – Have you ever been in a meeting where you are sharing your screen and Slack notifications keep popping up on the side of the screen? This is every PR pro’s nightmare. Change your status to “Do Not Disturb” to avoid unnecessary notifications. 

Customize the sound – Are you subscribed to multiple Slack channels and want a way to know where the message is coming from? In your settings, you can change the sounds of notifications to differentiate what sound belongs to each channel.  

Custom emojis – Sometimes words can’t express what you are feeling. Slack has a wide array of emojis but also allows users to add custom ones. In our workplace, we have custom emojis for Starbucks, Chick-fil-a, and a dancing Drake emoji. They add a little something extra to messages!

Create a to-do list – You can easily save messages and turn them into a to-do list. Just highlight your message and hit ‘save’ to access later.

Make a voice call – Did you know you could make phone calls over Slack? If you need to speak to someone quickly and don’t have their cell number, just click the small phone icon on their profile and you’re instantly connected.

Share webpages faster – Often, PR pros will want to share an article with the team to discuss how to create new reactive pitches based on news. Install the Slack chrome extension for faster sharing. 

Survey your team – Ask your team their opinion about something more quickly with the Simple Poll app on Slack. This app will help gather thoughts and feedback from teammates on company culture, ideas and brainstorming. 

What is your best kept Slack secret? Let me know on Twitter @colleeno_pr

Crenshaw Clients Among Some of the Hottest AdTech Companies According to Business Insider

Business Insider recently compiled a list of some of the year’s hottest AdTech companies after a long year of uncertainty for the industry. The list reflects issues that adtech companies are trying to solve — from the demise of ad targeting with third-party cookies to the rise of ad-supported streaming TV. It emphasizes the growing number of companies that have come up with ways to help marketers change how they plan and target their campaigns as the landscape sees dramatic changes.

Congrats to DoubleVerify, Innovid, LiveIntent, and Lotame for being standout companies and amazing clients! Check out the full list here: https://www.businessinsider.com/the-18-hottest-adtech-companies-of-2020-2020-11 

7 Ways To Prep A CEO For A Broadcast Interview

For PR pros, landing an on-air interview for a C-suite executive is a big deal. It’s a great way to position a company in front of a large audience, and it’s typically a chance to convey a point of view on a business topic or issue. But what if an executive isn’t fully prepared?

Unless they’re accustomed to giving public interviews and speaking to journalists frequently, there’s a good chance that even senior execs will need some coaching in advance of a key interview. There are several things you can do to ensure that things run smoothly. 

Ask for questions ahead of time…but don’t count on it

Media have different policies about sharing questions ahead of an interview. In general, most don’t. However, since on-air interviews are a different type of exchange, some producers are more flexible and may share the questions beforehand, and they will of course offer details about the interview’s direction. But even if you do receive some advance questions, be mindful that they can change. Broadcast interviewers are famous for pivoting in the moment to ensure their interviews are topical. If there’s a relevant breaking news story on the day of the interview, for example, it may come up. Don’t trust that the questions or even the direction you receive are set in stone, because they probably aren’t. 

Develop the interview’s messaging

Once the interview is set and you’ve provided as much information as possible, schedule a conversation to talk about the interview and to work out the messaging. If the segment is centered around breaking news, there might not be much time to link up, so it’s up to the PR pro to prep the spokesperson within a short time. It’s important not to overdo the messaging or put words in the spokesperson’s mouth. Simply spend a few minutes focusing on two or three of the most important points. The spokesperson should feel free to change any corporate-speak or buzzwords into ordinary language that reflects how normal people speak. If stuck, they can bring the interview back to the key points by flagging them with appropriate phrases like, “the key thing to remember here is…” or, if surprised by a question, “I don’t know about that, but what I can tell you is…” 

Advise them to speak slowly and naturally 

The best on-air interviews are free-flowing and relaxed, yet professional and insightful. One good rule to share is to speak as they would with a family member or friend who is attentive, but not as familiar with the issues discussed as an insider. It should feel like the interview is just two people having a conversation. The best exchanges are educational, allowing the person being questioned to impart valuable information or a relevant point of view. They should also answer without a lot of extraneous information, which can be left for a follow-up question.

Prep for the open-ended question

Sometimes a general question (“Tell me about your career”) can be tricky because the temptation may be to start at the beginning and recite a chronology of events or an overly detailed, rambling response. This is where advance coaching for reverting to a few key fact-based messages can be very helpful. Any top executive, of course, will be ready to discuss the organization and its value proposition, but it’s also helpful to rehearse responses to broad questions about the industry, the business climate, and one’s own background. Remember, topicality is key for broadcast interviewers, so they should lead with the latest and greatest.

Remind them to reference their expertise 

Typically an executive is invited to an interview because they’re seen as a subject-matter expert. It’s helpful to convey that expertise through examples and references to the interviewee’s training or experience. These might include supporting data, strong statements of fact and opinion, or references to the experience that informs their expertise, e.g. 20 years as a research scientist, or three successful startup businesses. Acting confident during the interview and providing well-researched and thought-out information will show the interviewer and folks watching that they’re a valuable information resource. 

Don’t worry about time delays

In the age of Zoom interviews, it’s natural for there to be a slight time lag between the host’s question and the interviewee’s response. It’s easy to accidentally speak over the interviewer, so if it happens, it’s no big deal. Counsel your executive to expect a few glitches, and to simply continue speaking if they happen to overlap, rather than stopping and apologizing. No host likes to interrupt their guest. 

Help them to “think in quotes”

For TV, shorter, punchier responses are strongly preferable to longer, circuitous statements. It’s best to prepare 7-8 second quotable soundbites. It’s also important to lead with the strongest quotes, since live interviews can be cut short, and editors who cut taped exchanges will sometimes grab the first usable quote they find. It’s also helpful to incorporate part of the question into the response, assuming the listener hasn’t heard the full question. Senior execs should never respond to questions with a simple “yes” or “no,” as this makes for a dull interview and doesn’t advance the organization’s story.

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Broadcast interviews are a great way to give a client exposure and credibility by weighing in on current or hot topics. The above are some measures that PR folks can take to ensure they get the most out of these opportunities, with hopes of being asked back in the future.