Media Tips

Preparing for an Interview

When you are asked to do an interview, it is very important to find out what sort of interview you are going to do. If it's a satellite interview or a live interview versus a prerecord interview, you are going to prepare things very differently. This video works through some of the different interview environments.

What to wear in an Interview

First impressions count, so what do you wear in an interview? For ladies, don’t wear a dress. It’s better to wear a skirt with a top and blazer. When you are getting mic-ed up, it can be embarrassing to have to stick a microphone cable up your dress. For men, blazers and ties are imperative. So what colour do you go for? Anything pastel, baby blue, baby pink, lilac. Stay away from heavily patterned clothing, anything with pin-stripes; it does something called strobing under studio lighting. Whites are also not a good colour to wear - they come out very bright on camera. Women stay away from lots of jewelry, anything that makes a lot of noise while you are on camera is bad, anything that distracts from what you are saying is also bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in Premier Magazine

 

Premier Magazine: In the Hot Seat

Anyone can ask questions, the real talent is in answering them. If you listen to any great communicator, you will hear how they talk in sound bites: a 10 second phrase that captures the essence of what you are trying to say, used to summarize information and entice the viewer. Your aim is to create neat and clean sound bites that are clear, without waffling.

Never before have businesses been faced with as skeptical a public as we are today. It seems we live in the age of the headline, and packaging your business’ media image to grab a person’s attention in short sound bites is imperative. There are ways to present a cohesive message, but it requires training and practice, even for the most media-savvy individual.

There is very little difference between the media confident veteran and yourself, other than the fact that they have practice being in front of the camera. They too, at some point in their media appearances, have blundered answers, waffled through an interview, and perhaps swayed in their chair. But it is only through training and practice that they have ironed out their flaws and transformed themselves into a captivating communicator.

As a business TV Reporter, there are several common tactics that I noticed all successful interviewees mastered. They understood that:

  • Authenticity and competence needed to be portrayed in their delivery.
  • Body language is one of the main contributors to the success of an interview.
    • Something as simple as not looking into the lens or darting one’s eyes can make the viewer think you are avoiding the questions or being dishonest, while someone who sits upright and relaxed, using hand gestures, is received with authority and sincerity.
  • Less is more. Say only what you need to, and only what strengthens your key messages.
    • Wafflers are the worst contenders. Saying too much dilutes your message and makes the audience think you do not know what you are talking about. You should go into an interview with 3 key messages, which are tailored to your audience.
  • Pauses allow you to think about what you want to say before you say it.
    • Taking a breath before answering, gives you time to formulate a concise response and also makes you appear relaxed and composed.
  • Bridging to key messages allows you to get your messages across, regardless of the interviewers questions.
    • The most artful individual can take one question, answer it, and then take the reigns of the interview, leading it to the areas they want to talk about. Linking phrases should be second nature, such as:

“Let me add…”

“Another thing to remember is…”

“Just as important is…”

  • Statistics and facts add credibility to your message.
    • Statistics and facts are what make you believable and put what you are talking about into perspective for the audience. Always come into an interview prepared with a list of statistics or numbers.
  • Adding personal anecdotes and experiences personalize your message and make you seem like a member of the general public with shared interests to the viewer.
  • If the reporter throws a curve ball question, you can buy time before answering by asking the reporter to confirm whether you understand the question correctly or simply commenting on the question.
    • One of the greatest responses I have heard turned a tense situation into humour: “Well, Ashlea, that’s the million dollar question of the day, isn’t it? And a tough one to answer…”

So, what can you do before an interview to ensure that you are prepared? Well, firstly, find out the facts. Who will be interviewing you? What is their reporting style? How long will the interview be? What sort of questions will be covered? Would they like for you to suggest relevant questions? Where can the interview be viewed online?

I think what a lot of interviewees fail to understand is that the interviewee is the expert, not the reporter. If you’ve been asked onto a show, it’s because you have value to add. The reporter doesn’t know everything about the business or your specialty; so, it is your responsibility to lead the interview in the most pertinent direction. At the end of the day, you would only accept an interview if there is some benefit to you. In any given interview, you would have your own agenda, such as getting certain key messages across and it is important to remember that throughout the interview, rather than simply answering the reporter’s questions.

A 5-minute interview on a business television channel is equivalent to roughly R80 000. So, use that media opportunity wisely. Warren Buffet says, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it”. When you take that into consideration, you realize the implications or opportunities a media appearance presents, and with the viral effect of social media today, you should be sure that when you’re on camera and in the hot seat, you’re prepared.

Inthe hot seat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone can ask questions, the real talent is in answering them. If you listen to any great communicator, you will hear how they talk in sound bites: a 10 second phrase that captures the essence of what you are trying to say, used to summarize information and entice the viewer. Your aim is to create neat and clean sound bites that are clear, without waffling.

By Ashlea Harvey
Published in Business Brief

In the HOT seat – You’re it!

Businesses are faced with a skeptical a public. It seems we live in the age of the headline, and packaging your business’ media image to grab a person’s attention in short sound bites is imperative. There are ways to present a cohesive message, but it requires training and practice, even for the most media-savvy individual.

There is very little difference between the media confident veteran and yourself, other than the fact that they have practice being in front of the camera. They too, at some point in their media appearances, have blundered answers, waffled through an interview, and perhaps swayed in their chair. But it is only through training and practice that they have ironed out their flaws and transformed themselves into a captivating communicator.

There are several common tactics that all successful interviewees have mastered. They understood that:

•Authenticity and competence needed to be portrayed in their delivery.
•Body language is one of the main contributors to the success of an interview.
•Something as simple as not looking into the lens or darting one’s eyes can make the viewer think you are avoiding the questions or being dishonest, while someone who sits upright and relaxed, using hand gestures, is received with authority and sincerity.
•Less is more. Say only what you need to, and only what strengthens your key messages.
•Wafflers are the worst contenders. Saying too much dilutes your message and makes the audience think you do not know what you are talking about. You should go into an interview with 3 key messages, which are tailored to your audience.
•Pauses allow you to think about what you want to say before you say it.
•Taking a breath before answering, gives you time to formulate a concise response and also makes you appear relaxed and composed.
•Bridging to key messages allows you to get your messages across, regardless of the interviewers questions.
•The most artful individual can take one question, answer it, and then take the reigns of the interview, leading it to the areas they want to talk about. Linking phrases should be second nature, such as:
“Let me add…”
“Another thing to remember is…”
“Just as important is…”
•Statistics and facts add credibility to your message.
•Statistics and facts are what make what you believable and put what you are talking about into perspective for the audience. Always come into an interview prepared with a list of statistics or numbers.
•Adding personal anecdotes and experiences personalize your message and make you seem like a member of the general public with shared interests to the viewer.
•If the reporter throws a curve ball question, you can buy time before answering by asking the reporter to confirm whether you understand the question correctly or simply commenting on the question.
•One of the greatest responses I have heard turned a tense situation into humour: “Well, Ashlea, that’s the million dollar question of the day, isn’t it? And a tough one to answer…”

Warren Buffet says, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it”. When you take that into consideration, you realize the implications or opportunities a media appearance presents, and with the viral effect of social media today, you should be sure that when you’re on camera and in the hot seat, you’re prepared

There are a number of fundamental things to remember when you take a step under the spotlight.

By Ashlea Evans
Published in Inspire Magazine

Beat the Bloopers

During my time as a TV reporter, it was way too often that I sat across from the camera, interviewing someone who I just knew, was on a devastating road to self-destruction. The blunders, the waffling, and the one-word answers don’t even touch the tip of the iceberg of the damage that every word is leaving. Not all publicity is good publicity. There are a number of fundamental things to remember when you take a step under the spotlight.

Firstly, know what you’re getting into. If you are asked to do an interview, make sure you know who is interviewing you, what their style is, what topics they will be asking you about, and how much time you’ll have. This will lay the groundwork for your agenda, because you only accept an interview, if you have your own agenda, of course.

So, once you’ve done your homework, and you know what to expect and what audience you’ll be talking to, you can then go about constructing the key messages you’d like to get across. They should be concise, coherent and brief (not more than a sentence). You will generally only have 3 messages in an interview.

Now, you have to tell it to sell it. The secret is to be an honest, informative, descriptive and open storyteller. Your story should have a beginning, middle and end. Be sure on where each of these is, as you will need this to get to the point, if you get side tracked. Remember, always put your main points first, and then elaborate to create colour around the message.

Delivering your messages is all about talking smart. Know how to bridge from a difficult question to slipping one of your key messages in, by adding bridges, such as “Let me add…” or “Another thing to remember is…” When answering the reporter, talk in soundbites - 20-second phrases that capture the essence of what you are trying to say, used to summarize information and entice the viewer. Your aim is to create neat and clean sound bites that are clear, without waffling.

While mastering the art of the killer interview takes more time and practice, if you follow these simple rules, your first media appearance won’t appear in the Blooper Roll.

Published in Entrepreneur Magazine

What to do when the Headline is You

What to do when the headline is you

It is every company’s worst PR nightmare: imagine waking up to your company’s name slashed across the headlines. How you choose to handle being in the spotlight determines your public image, and ultimately the future of your business. So, if this does happen to you, handle the situation delicately, it can either make you or break you.

Media Training

While you may not need to interact with the media at present, you never know what the future may hold, or when you will have to answer to a reporter on camera. So, it is best to be media ready prior to that fateful day. There are a small number of professional reporters and media specialists who offer media training. Training should consist of a theory segment, teaching you the art of communicating with the media and a tailored media messaging toolkit, as well as a practical segment, placing you in a simulated interview environment, providing you with close guidance and coaching through the interrogation process.

Media Exposure

I always tell my clients that the one thing that sets them apart from the most professional interviewees and regulars on CNBC and other business news channels is practice and experience. The more time you spend in front of the camera, the more relaxed you will become in the spotlight, allowing you to focus less on your image, and more on the messages you want to reveal. Your first few interviews are going to be like riding a bike without fairy wheels for the first time, so rather do them now, before you’re a media focus and everyone has their eyes on you.

Crisis Communications

In a crisis, you want to be prepared, so cover your bases now. You should have a current roster of employees with all their after-hour contact details. Crises don’t adhere to work hours.

When a crisis takes place you need to put together a Crisis Communications Team that will decide on what actions need to take place. The team should comprise of the CEO, the chief of Public Relations, the senior manager from the division in charge of the relevant department, the safety and/or security officer, the organization Lawyer, and anyone else who might be able to shed some light on the situation. Then, the team then needs to decide on a spokesperson (someone who is media trained, calm under pressure, and someone the public can believe and trust).

Tell it all, tell it fast and tell the truth!

Many times organizational lawyers get too involved, as it is their job to minimize costs and legal fees, however, it is better to tell the truth from the beginning, as we all know, the truth always comes out. The foremost goal is to protect the integrity and reputation of the company, so never ignore the situation, lie or deny your involvement – rather be honest and responsible, by counteracting with a positive message.

If you don't communicate immediately, you lose your greatest opportunity to control events. With the invasion of social media, the first word in cyberspace wins, so ensure that your clients are getting the truth from you, not hearsay via Twitter. Ensure that your social media platforms are up to date with a captive audience now; you want to ensure that you have followers in order to share the truth if a crisis hits.

If, when the headline is you, you are honest, show integrity and a desire to correct the wrong, as well as illustrate a concern for the public, the loyalty of your customers and employees should be secured, and while not all media exposure is good exposure, handling a crisis correctly, can in fact be a positive media opportunity and put your business on the map.

Published in Entrepreneur Magazine

Why your Brand’s First Impressions Count

First impressions count

Your clothing communicates your brand, so what do you wear in a TV interview?

Like it or not, you are what you wear and people will make judgments about your organization based on your attire. So, if you want a winning interview, you need to dress for success.

Fundamentals for the studio

While pin stripes are great in the business world, in the media world they’re a no-no. Under harsh studio lighting, tight patterns do something called strobing. It looks as though the lines are vibrating, and can be very distracting to the viewers. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that you want to draw your audience into your content, rather than have them diverted by your appearance.

While many women like to look flashy on camera, in fact wearing bold or dazzling jewelry can also draw the viewers’ attention from your message, and rather to your jewels. So, it’s best to wear something more conservative like pearls. Heavy or noisy bracelets can also create a jingling noise on the studio desk if you talk with your hands.

If you wear glasses, be very sure that you don’t go into an interview wearing light-sensitive glasses. In just a few seconds under studio lights, you will be sitting in dark-lensed glasses – probably not an appearance you want to portray.

Flatter your image

Remember that one always looks larger on TV, so if your suit doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. You want to look polished, so invest in an outfit that is tailored to your shape. Tailored suits give a more confident and successful impression. It may be a big investment for your wardrobe, but it’s a small investment for your brand.

Make-up matters

According to a study funded by Proctor & Gamble, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston University, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, women who wear make-up rank higher in competence and trustworthiness. And in another study by the American Economic Review, they earn 30% more than non-make-up wearing colleagues. So, pull out your brush and mascara, and remember that makeup for on-camera needs to be a lot bolder than every day makeup. To prevent that oily shine under the studio lights, apply a translucent matte powder to your face at the end of your makeup routine.

On-camera colours

When going under the studio lights, it’s important to be aware of the affect that lighting has on colour. White blazes or glares, black ages skin by creating shadows and red bleeds on camera, so, while it may be a good colour for a presentation or meeting, it’s not a good colour for the camera sensor.

Colour greatly influences human emotion and interpretation, so wear colours according to your interview. Vibrant colours or pastels are best. Blues create a calming effect; so if you want to appear honest and trustworthy, wear blue. Deep reds or maroons represent passion or power, so if it is a hard-cutting interview, wearing a maroon may work to your advantage. Colours will also accentuate your features; so if you’ve spent the weekend in the sun, avoid pinks or reds that will highlight your tan. Wearing blues or greens will highlight blue or green eyes. A good outfit would be a navy blue suit with a pastel pink shirt and pastel blue tie.

Getting mic-ed up

When you get into the studio, the crew will clip a lapel microphone to your tie, or jacket collar. If you are wearing a button-up shirt, this won’t be a concern, however, if you are wearing a dress or a top without buttons, this will pose a problem. The microphone wire will have to be dropped down your dress or shirt, which can be awkward in an already stressful situation. So, it is best to wear something with buttons or at least a suit jacket when wearing a dress.

A woman’s wardrobe

Women who show more skin are taken less seriously, so if you want to break the glass ceiling, dress more conservatively and perhaps consider the power of the dress suit. If you choose to wear a dress or skirt, be sure to keep your legs crossed – you want to be sure that the viewers don’t have a view up your skirt.

Body language

While dressing for success is an extremely important component of any interview, nothing is more essential than your audience believing that you are what you portray in your attire. So, ensure that your body language mimics the message your clothes communicate.