By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Podcast.
Alex Greenwood of AlexPR is a veteran public relations professional with over 25 years of experience. He’s also an award-winning author and host of two podcasts, namely “Mysterious Goings On” and “PR After Hours.” Being frequently featured on television shows, radios, and podcasts, he shares valuable insights on how to be a good guest and get invited back to a show.
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Practise and Prepare
For many people, panic arises when they get invited for a media interview after their project or PR effort becomes successful. Part of Alex’s work is offering tips on how to help people make the most of their appearance.
One of the first things that you need to do is to practise — especially if it’s your first time getting interviewed. Come prepared even though your segment will only run for a few minutes. Alex has seen many professionals zone out and forget what they’re talking about simply by not practising. Making sure that you have your thoughts down is more important than how you look or what you wear.
As a rule, he recommends preparing three points. Have three salient points — three good anecdotes — to talk about. Bear in mind that people mostly learn through storytelling and hearing about others’ mistakes or experiences. If you can find entertaining anecdotes that get your point across, tell those stories during your interview. You won’t only get more engagement from the interviewer, you can also send your message across more effectively — and even get asked back.
Talk About Something Relatable
If you’re going to get interviewed on a local television station, consider it a golden opportunity. It’s an opportunity that’s not simply handed out to anybody because TV show producers can only allocate a certain amount of time for a feature for every episode.
When appearing on any local media, one of the first things that they will ask is if your topic is going to be local. They have to know if your story is relatable to their local viewers. Then, they’d also make sure that you can speak and present your story well.
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If you’re pitching to the press, show proof that you can talk effectively and be confident in front of the camera. Ready some tape or a YouTube video (think of it as some sort of an audition reel) and take it from the media’s perspective. They wouldn’t want to have someone who looks unpresentable or someone who might freeze during the interview. The key is to demonstrate ahead of time that you know what you’re talking about and you won’t leave them hanging.
Alex points out that you have to know that news presenters, producers, and reporters don’t really know much about the subject matter you’re talking about. So on your part, you have to come off as someone confident and well-prepared. You have to look good on camera and know how much time do you have for your segment. Take note that your job is to make sure that you fill in all gaps for them and answer their questions.
Know the Program Where You’ll be Featured
Researching is also vital before guesting on a show. Watch the program or listen to the podcast where you will be featured so you can get the tone and the flow of the show. For instance, before Alex did his interview for The UnNoticed Show, he shared that he listened to a few episodes to get an idea of what the podcast is all about.
If you watch a program, read a reporter’s column, or listen to a show beforehand, you’re going to know what to expect. This will help in taking off your tension. In other cases, like with The UnNoticed, yours truly and the guests have a little conversation first to establish good rapport before the recording proper. For Alex’s part, it has been helpful in bringing the temperature down because he still encounters anxiety even though he did interviews a lot of times already.
Once in-studio features are also back after the lockdown, Alex also points out it’s important to have a little talk with the host during commercial breaks. Bring up something he or she has previously talked about in the show. Many hosts will appreciate you knowing that you’ve taken the time to watch the program and know their work better. Again, it helps in establishing good rapport immensely.
Be Mindful About Audio Quality
In one of Alex’s articles on Medium, he shares tips with people who will be featured on podcasts. For a medium that relies on audio, it’s vital to have spot-on sound quality. You can achieve this by maintaining a three-inch distance from your microphone.
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When people get featured on his podcasts, he makes sure that his guests have good audio quality (apart from requesting them to promote their feature on social media before and after the episode). One of the main reasons that audiences stop listening to podcasts is poor audio quality. If people continually hear a dog barking or children playing, or someone typing out really loud, they’ll be turned off. If you do something that’s distracting (like eating, which Alex has encountered in real life), it can also leave a bad impression on the interviewer.
Alex doesn’t expect all guests to have a fancy microphone. However, it’s something that’s worth the investment if you’re consistently getting interviewed. If you have less frequent features, using less expensive USB microphones or a microphone with built-in earbuds can already suffice to have good audio quality.
Take note that podcasting is an intimate medium. And many people who listen to podcasts use headphones. If there will be a creak or fraying, all these noises can be heard. In Alex’s experience, people who don’t invest in good sound quality are those that don’t get invited again on podcasts.
Tell a Topic Suitable for the Program
As a PR professional, Alex knows how important it is to not waste clients’ time. If you’re getting featured on news media, this applies just the same. This is why it’s vital that you and the media person should agree on what you will talk about.
For instance, he had a client who was into negotiating with the Internal Revenue System. And that client was delving more on the heavier side — like getting behind in arrears of taxes for several years and having the risk of getting jailed. Such a heavy topic is not fit for a nine o’clock show whose audiences are morning people drinking their coffee; it’s more apt, for instance, for a business radio outlet.
Alex has also worked with a national pest control company and what they do is provide ingredients for do-it-yourself pest controls via mail order. Their services help save money and are timely during lockdown wherein delivering commodities is the trend. This is an example of a topic that can work well in every kind of media outlet.
As stated, when choosing a topic, it also pays to have a local angle to it. If you can, it’s also better to feature another resource person. For example, if your product is being used by a local restaurant, you can have the restaurant owner talk about it himself or herself. The show can also get B-rolls featuring that restaurant using your product. Localise things as much as possible. This way, you can offer free publicity to your client while injecting your feature with third-party credibility.
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Put Yourself in the Media People’s Chair
The biggest tip that Alex can give to people getting interviewed is putting themselves in the chair of the people behind the program. Think of all the potential objections that they may give and knock them down beforehand. Prepare video materials that can be played, refer them to other relevant people who can be interviewed, and give free samples of your product.
You can also remind them how local and timely your offering is. In the industry, there’s this so-called newsjacking. It means riding along to a certain big phenomenon (e.g., pandemic) and finding an angle where you can inject your own story.
This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast The UnNoticed, you can listen here.