In a matter of weeks, the way we do business and interact with each other has radically changed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and media relations is no different. Gone are the days of going in-studio for a segment or having coffee with a reporter to discuss a story. Now we’re doing remote media interviews view tools like Zoom, Skype and Facetime.
Reporters – especially those in television news – have done a great job of pivoting how they operate in this new age of social distancing while still bringing stories their communities want and need. PR pros have also pivoted and had to rethink how they pitch, place and secure stories for clients, but perhaps none more than the coveted in-studio TV news interview.
We’ve been working hard to prepare clients for successful remote interviews via videoconferencing tools like Zoom and Skype, and we’ve boiled it down into a list of eight tips to make the most of the opportunity.
Think About Your Settings & Tools
- Secure a setting. Find a well-lit, quiet area, preferably with natural light that’s in front of you, not behind you. Ensure the background isn’t distracting. It’s OK to have art on the wall or to see the rest of the room you’re in, as long as it is clean and uncluttered. If you need to, open a word processing document on your phone and prop it up against your computer screen to add light.
- Prepare your set-up. Use a computer if possible. Use a computer stand, sturdy stack of books or an old Amazon delivery box to bring your computer’s camera to eye-height. Just make sure there’s no danger of the computer falling mid-interview.
- Test your sound. If you’re in a large room, it can sound cavernous. Try to find a well-lit corner of the room to set up in, which is good for both audio and visual. Wireless earbuds are a good solution to enhance your sound quality if you have them. Test it ahead of time and record yourself speaking and play it back to hear what it sounds like. If it’s not great, look for other areas to set up in or find earbuds that have a good-quality built-in microphone. Right before your interview, you’ll want to ensure there is as little noise interference as possible – think about putting pets in another room and make sure other people around are as quiet as they can be.
- Clean your camera lens. This is a simple, yet very overlooked task. Your thumbprints or dust could be sitting on that tiny lens, and that can really interfere with your video quality. Use a microfiber cloth to simply wipe it clean and you’re ready to go!
Think About Your Appearance
- What to wear? In general, blocks of color do better than patterns. Simple, clean tops will look best in video, such as a company branded polo or button up shirt. Be wary of the old adage that you only have to dress from the waist up – you never know what can happen. If you’re wearing a button-down shirt and suit jacket, you don’t need to put on the matching pants or skirt, but make sure what you are wearing is clean and professional.
- Do you sit or stand? Well, that depends on what’s more comfortable for you, and if you can find a way to ensure your computer’s camera is at eye height. If you can stand and still have the camera at eye level, go for it! If you are sitting, that’s fine… just remember to sit up straight. Move to the edge of your seat – it projects confidence and helps you stay sitting straight.
Think About What You’ll Say
- Know your subject matter. Review talking points ahead of time, and practice! Just as we advise clients to do before any interview, make sure you know the nature of the interview, get your facts and figures together and run through it a few times to ensure you’re comfortable with the subject.
- Bring notes. It’s ok to have notes by you during your interview, but make sure they aren’t able to be seen, and only use them in a pinch. Notes should be a simple bullet point list, or an outline so they’re easy for you to scan.
Spend a few minutes preparing ahead of time, and you’ll be sure to make the most of a media interview opportunity… even if it is from the comfort of your own home!