Being on TV is sexy, right? Come on, admit it! Whether you like the way you look on camera or the way your voice sounds, there is nothing quite like the thrill of seeing yourself being interviewed on TV.

Our clients love being on TV, as they should. And I’m guessing since you’re reading this you’d love it too. Whether you’re working with a publicist or pitching yourself, there are important rules you need to keep in mind if you want to land TV coverage and deliver a knockout interview.

Are you ready for your close up? Let’s see…

Lights, Camera, Action!

Turning on the lights for the media

Landing a television interview is exciting, especially when you do your own PR. Even if you think scoring a segment is out of your grasp, or you have no clue how to get this type of coverage, it’s not hard! They are a just few rules you need to follow to put your right foot in front of the camera.

Rule #1: It’s not about you

This is the hardest rule to follow for most people. They start doing PR to promote themselves, their products or their services — but unless they’re truly earth-shattering, the media doesn’t care. Now, I know we all think “our babies” are the cutest, but they just can’t all be the best; the truth is, most are simply average (sorry, I’m not trying to insult you… what you’re doing is special, but you need to look at it from the producer’s eyes).

With that being said, I don’t mean you can’t get airtime for your baby. But in order to achieve that, you need to take a hard look and ask yourself two very important questions:

  1. Why should TV producers care about me?
  2. Why should they care about me now?

Put the cameras squarely on you: 4 tips to help you answer these questions

  1. Know the producer’s needs: TV media constantly looks for good visuals and a story that can be told in short, easy, digestible sound bites. TV segments are often short and fast paced, so producers look for people who can clearly express what they want and are comfortable on camera.
  2. Local outlets: Morning and noon local TV news shows always look for interesting people, businesses and topics. They want to relate to people’s interest in the universal topics of health, wealth and love with a local tie-in.
  3. National outlets: If you want national media coverage now, the first and most important rule is to watch the news and be on the pulse of breaking news. Constantly ask yourself, what can I add to the story from my viewpoint or area of expertise?
  4. Timing is everything: Broadcast producers prefer a day’s notice on breaking news, but they are setup to respond within minutes or hours to true breaking news. In the case of seasonal or non-breaking news, give them four week’s notice.

If you really sit with these tips the answers to, “Why should TV producers care about me?” and, “Why should they care about me now?” should be crystal clear. Then it’s time to pitch the media. (If you’re unclear about how to pitch the media, I will cover that in a forthcoming article.)

Rule #2: Promote yourself by not promoting yourself

If you want to give a fantastic media interview, you have to promote yourself in such a way that you don’t appear to be promoting yourself. Here’s the kicker: it’s all about giving the media what they want, so answer their questions and avoid obvious self-promotion of your book, product or service.

When you want to make a great impression, concentrate on what your interviewer needs and useful information you can give their audience. Just like going a first date. Remember, the interview is your best promotion. Take a backseat to the interview’s promotional power and enjoy the publicity results. Chances are they will identify you by your profession or company, perhaps including your website or contact information.

Step into the ring and deliver a knockout interview!

As mentioned earlier, giving a media interview is kind of like when you go on a first date: it lays the groundwork for your relationship with the journalist who interviews you and it makes you attractive for future interviews with other media.

You’ve caught their attention. Now you need to show them you can deliver a professional interview that doesn’t just meet their needs but blows their expectations. Do that, and you are on your way to a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship. This will pay returns in publicity results for years to come.

Preparation is key. Business professionals who deal with the media regularly undergo extensive media training to learn what to say, how to say it and how to make the best impression in broadcast and print interviews.

Professional media trainers give their clients many practical tips to deliver a knockout interview, from posture and speaking recommendations that convey confidence and authority down to specifics on how to dress and groom for the interview. Those are all important. But just as crucial as those, you have to remember the key messages that shape you as a brand. Because this is what the public will remember.

Companies know the importance of making a name for their products and services to set themselves apart from their competition. Today the economy is rapidly shifting, combine that with our increased web-driven communications, it is essential for individuals to constantly assess, update and promote their personal brands. Your media interview offers the chance to do this and shine.

Rule #3:Follow the Boy Scout Motto

If you want the best free publicity tip, remember the Scout Motto: Be Prepared.

Lack of preparation is a publicist’s nightmare — yours too. So dress up, know your sound bites ahead of time, and review your online press kit.

Now we’ve covered the big principles and rules that will make your media interview amazing, let’s discuss some basic tips to assure you’re on your game so everything goes smoothly.

Insider tips that will make your date (sorry, interview) go smoothly

  • Make sure you have the bandwidth: More and more TV interviews and being done via Skype. The recommended bandwidth for video calling (HD) is 1.5Mbps / 1.5Mbps ~ download / upload speed.

  • Dress to impress: If you’re doing television, give some thought into what you’ll be wearing. Ask yourself, “How will I look on set?” You want to stand out, not blend in. Solids are preferred. Bright colors are best. Avoid black and patterns (stripes, plaids, etc.) as they don’t play well with cameras. Wear great jewelry and great shoes (just in case that gets on screen). Also, bring an extra outfit just in case the anchor is wearing the same one, and do your makeup/hair (most studios will have a stylist on the scene, but you should be prepared just in case). An easy way to prepare your best look is to watch the headline news and just model yourself after the anchors you like. It’s even a good idea to dress professionally for a phone interview. You’re likely to be more confident in your professional attire than in your pajamas. Publicity success lies in a person’s confidence.

  • Help the host focus on your expertise: Send a suggested list of questions for the interviewer to use ahead of time. (Note: Do not try this before a first, second or third date.) You’ll be able to answer these questions in a very succinct and clear manner, making great sound bites that can be pulled out and used in print articles, getting more publicity for you. It’s always a good idea to review your online press kit prior to the interview as well. Print media in particular will appreciate any background, supporting studies or research you can provide to backup your expertise.

Remember, good publicity begets more good publicityWhen you come across as a polished professional in your media interviews, journalists will take note and call you for many future dates.

Look, I know this is a lot of information, but most is common sense. Producers are human and they’re committed to providing value for their audience. I know you’re committed to the same. So my question is, are you committed to doing what it takes to be a TV rockstar by learning the artistry of being entertaining and charismatic while at the same time providing valuable information?

Are you ready for your close up?

If you enjoyed this post and insider tips, comment below and let me know!