Local PR is Effective PR Guidebook

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

The Dos and Don'ts of TV and Radio Interviews

Spokespeople need to be knowledgeable about the subject and must be able to think on their feet. When the interviewer asks an unexpected question, you've got to be able to answer appropriately. It matters less that you are a smooth-talker and more that you are a credible source of information.

  1. Mention the American Association for Respiratory Care or that you are an RT as often as possible.
  2. Use "we" instead of "I" when possible.
  3. Give the correct information in a positive way. All your answers should have a positive tone.
  4. Don't argue with the reporter.
  5. Don't repeat the question and don't start the answer with "That's a good question."
  6. Avoid repetitive phrases or words such as: you know, like, um, well.
  7. Remember, most reporters don't bite. You're the expert answering the reporter's questions, so share your knowledge in a way that is easy to understand, keeping in mind that the audience may not have medical knowledge and that they may lose your point if your answer is too long.
  8. If there is a question you don't know the answer to, say so. Ideally, you will say something like: "I don't know the answer to that question, but I'll be happy to find out for you." If you have someone who can check for you while you are being interviewed, great, but if not, finish the interview and get them the answer as soon as possible, so they can meet their deadline or include the answer in their next broadcast.
  9. Provide the interviewer with your name and telephone number in case they have follow-up questions.
  10. On Radio: It's all about sound, so speak clearly and slowly.
    1. You will lose people's interest if they cannot understand what you are saying.
    2. Try to let your tone match the tone of the interviewer. For example, if you are on a morning radio show (talking about a free screening you've helped set up) and the DJ is friendly and joking, keep your tone light; you're there to encourage people to come out to an event, foster the goodwill that gets them to your screening and educate them there. If you are on an afternoon talk show that focuses on serious issues, keep your tone more serious (It would probably be helpful to show up at this kind of show with statistics and drier information.); this audience is used to getting information and they expect an educational and thought-provoking discussion.
    3. If you've got notes, don't rustle the papers.
  11. On TV: Here your appearance, carriage, content and voice all matter.
    1. Look at the person you are talking to, don't look directly into the camera unless asked to do so.
    2. Sit up straight but don't be stiff. If you are wearing a jacket or coat, tuck it under when you sit down. This will help to square your shoulders, give a stronger appearance and help you to sit up straight.
    3. Avoid fidgeting or unnecessary hand gestures.
    4. Avoid wearing black or white. Both are dull on color television. Solid colors look best, plaids and busy prints tend to moray (move). If you have light skin tones, dark colors are usually better and if you have darker skin tones, brighter colors work best. Avoid wearing corduroy; it's too noisy.
    5. Wear clothes that are comfortable and conservative. Try to avoid wearing clothes with logos other than AARC, your hospital or event. Remember that a microphone will probably be clipped to your jacket, shirt, blouse or tie.
    6. Be conservative with your jewelry as well. Avoid large or clunky jewelry; long, dangling earrings and jewelry that will reflect the studio lights.
  12. In summary: Stay focused, relaxed and calm. Be enthusiastic and enjoy the experience!