24 June 2013
Jade Wilson, Account Manager

The importance of media training for broadcast interviews - lights, camera, action



Broadcast opportunities are a great way to promote your business and can often be seen as the ‘icing on the cake’ of a PR campaign. They can come in various different guises - television or radio, live or pre-recorded – however, no matter what the format, there are a few considerations that are always important. Here at Westgate, we always seek to place our clients as key spokespeople on industry issues and we have a long track record in setting up regional and national interviews.

Spokespeople should always be thoroughly briefed on the brand they are representing and so they should consider not only what they say, but also, as 70% of a visual message is non-verbal, their presentation and appearance. If the opportunity is speaking about the latest corporate news, a suit and tie is appropriate. If it is an appearance speaking about the latest charity initiative, then perhaps a more casual approach can be taken. For radio opportunities, the tone of voice is particularly important. To bring a story or issue to life on radio, the interviewee has to really ‘perform’ and often this means stepping outside of their comfort zone.   

When thinking about television there are two main differences in terms of planning. Some programmes that have been commissioned for a series or documentary programme can take months in the planning stages before the finished show hits television screens. A long process of planning, negotiations, casting and testing will occur before filming for the series or show even starts.

Other programmes might be reactive to the news agenda and can be turned around in a matter of hours. A story will break and relevant experts will be recruited. These are likely to be spokespeople who either have a pre-existing relationship with the reporters and planners or who are crucial commentators on the news story.

For news programmes, interviews can either be live or pre-recorded. If they are live, we always make sure our client’s are aware of all potential issues, as questions can be asked that have not been prepared for and could lead to an unfavourable outcome. It is always worth knowing whether other spokespeople will be participating as a live debate situation is a whole other ball game!

If pre-recorded, there is slightly more flexibility, a question can be asked again which will make a spokesperson feel slightly more comfortable and less ‘on the spot’. We also always ask for a list of questions ahead of the interview for consideration but these are not always guaranteed.

For clients who like to explore broadcast opportunities, we always recommend and facilitate media training for their key spokespeople who could potentially be called upon at short notice. This is a key method in preparing to get into the mindset of an interviewee and to prepare for the conditions of the interview. The training can also highlight potential issues that need to be ironed out before the interview takes place.

Preparation is key to ensure that a broadcast opportunity has a positive impact on the brand. Here at Westgate, our role is to maximise all possible broadcast opportunities for our clients and ensure that their spokespeople are fully prepared. Do get in contact if you or a colleague would be interested in finding out more about our media training programmes and how to enhance your media messaging.


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