As we enter the second year of the pandemic, many of us are experiencing Zoom meeting fatigue.
But when it comes to pitching media and coordinating interviews, Zoom and other video conference platforms have become an incredible tool to connect sources with news networks all across the country.
Gone are the days of in-person desksides or going in-studio for a segment. Now we’re doing remote media interviews using tools like Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime – many of which we are already using throughout the workday.
As we continue to prepare our clients for successful remote interviews, here are a few tips and tricks to make the most of the opportunity:
Review Your Settings
Before conducting an interview, ensure your video-conferencing tools are up to date. While it’s unlikely your username will be displayed on screen, it’s a good idea to ensure it’s up to date with your full name and organization. Also, get to know Zoom’s “touch up my appearance” feature. It applies an instant soft focus to your video display, which presents a more polished appearance on screen.
When you’re ready to do your interview, turn off distracting notifications on your computer, and ensure you know where your camera is. You’ll want to look directly at the camera – not yourself – during the interview, so it appears you are looking at the audience and not the computer.
If you’re wearing headphones, choose the wired kind. Wireless headphones are convenient, but you can easily lose Bluetooth connectivity or have battery issues.
Establish Your Background
- Find a well-lit, quiet area, preferably with natural light that’s in front of you or to the side of you, not behind you. If you are unable to sit by a window, place a lamp in front of you.
- Ensure your camera sits at or above your eye level by propping it up on a stand or other stable surface. Sit far enough away from the camera so your head, shoulders, and chest are visible.
- Find an appropriate background that isn’t distracting. While virtual backgrounds are fun with friends and coworkers, they are not appropriate for media interviews. Artwork or bookshelves work well as long as they are clean and uncluttered. Most importantly, don’t forget to clear any personal information, photos, or proprietary work information!
Do a Practice Run
Always do a test interview with a colleague or your agency partner. Check your background, lighting, and practice your key messages. Most studios will also ask you to check your settings either the day before or 15 to 20 minutes before a scheduled interview. Test runs are helpful so you can focus on your messages during your interview – not the stress of trying to troubleshoot technical issues.
Put Your Best Face Forward
Powder your nose and forehead to “de-shine” or consider using an oil-blotting sheet. Comb hair and check for shine, flyaways, or anything in teeth. The safest color to wear for television interviews is blue. In general, do not wear white, black, red, or patterns, and avoid colors that blend into the background. If you wear glasses, ensure your screen doesn’t reflect light off your lenses, and avoid any jewelry or other accessories that are too shiny or distracting.
Know Your Talking Points
Just because you’re behind a computer screen doesn’t mean you can read notes from your monitor. If your eyes are reading from the screen, it will look obvious to viewers on TV. All of the same media training tips apply. Know your key messages, be energetic, avoid jargon, and speak in clear, memorable sound bites.
Remember It’s Not Over Until It’s Over
Like any interview, any conversations with producers, reporters, or staff members should be considered “on the record.” The interview is not over until you have turned off your phone or speaker and logged out of the meeting.
If you have questions or need help with an upcoming interview or speaking engagement, the Blue Wagon Group team is here to help. Let us know.
While Nancy Mayes is listed as the author of this post, other members of the Blue Wagon Group team contributed.