10 Tips for Mastering Your Television Skype Interview

(Editor’s note:  Cam is one of The Hodges Partnership’s media relations superstars. Much of his recent work has been focused on international media for clients like ChildFund International.  This post is a result of his recent success.) -JN

by Cameron McPherson

One of the neatest things about technology advances is how it lets news organizations connect with sources and experts more quickly. With Skype, Google+ and other video calling tools, news networks like CNN and MSNBC can get an expert on the air in a matter of minutes.

ChildFund’s Mark Dasco does a Skype interview with CNN International after last year’s tsunami in The Philippines.

ChildFund’s Mark Dasco does a Skype interview with CNN International after last year’s tsunami in The Philippines.

A video interview via Skype or Google+ is much like a traditional studio interview. There are some extra things to keep in mind though. When we’re coordinating Skype interviews for clients, here are some of the tips we share:

Do not look at your screen: You will look weird. Instead, look at your computer’s camera, so it appears to viewers that you are looking at them. Put a bright sticker or another marker to draw your eyes to the camera.

Know your talking points: Just because you’re behind a computer and not in the studio, does not mean you can cheat by including notes on your monitor. This is broadcast television – the big leagues! If your eyes are reading from the screen, it will look awkward to viewers.

Turn off notifications: Remember how I told you to look at the camera? Turn off email and other desktop notifications that may pop up and distract you during your interview. Also, silence cell phones to avoid unwanted background noise.

Create a backdrop: This sounds like common sense, but if you’re doing an interview from your office, be sure to clean up. It’s also an opportunity to include organization signage in the background. If you have a poster or sign with the organization’s logo, put it behind you.

Practice: Don’t wait until you’re live on CNN to see how you look on the video feed. Practice with a friend or coworker to make sure you and your surroundings look top notch. Test lighting to make sure it’s not too dark or bright. It’s also a chance to practice looking at the camera, something that may not feel “natural.”

Wardrobe: 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.

Headphones: Ideally, you’ll be able to hear the anchor without the use of headphones, but have them around just in case. Use a pair of discreet, white or black headphones, if needed.

Reduce background noise: Turn the television off. Not only will it create background noise, but the short delay can distract interviewees. Additionally, be aware of other outside sounds that could interfere. Closing your office door is always a good idea.

A Professional Skype username: While it’s unlikely your username will be displayed on the screen, the producer will need to connect with you beforehand. Nothing takes away from an expert’s credibility like “BarbieGirl99.” I suggest a username with your full name and organization.

Keep IT on standby: This is technology you’re dealing with – it will break when you need it most! Make sure you have someone around who can fix any issues that pop up.

Producers will often call and do a sound check before broadcast to make sure the connection is solid. Feel free to ask any questions or concerns you may have at this time. But, remember: you’re an expert and you’re going to do great!

Do you have any tips for the perfect Skype interview? Please share in the comments below.

Paula Deen’s diabetes PR disaster, ya’ll

Editor’s note:  This post is a guest post from THP’s “Employee Number One” Stacey Brucia, who mans New York PR and social media outpost.

I’ve been watching CNN today and now have NY local news on in the background. And a top story of the day is Anthony Bourdain’s tweet that’s a hit against Paula Deen. It’s follow-up story to Deen’s announcement yesterday that she is a spokesperson for a diabetes drug company. I’d name then, but then I’m giving them more PR.

And that’s what I’m arguing against/feeling some disgust about.  As someone in PR, of course I have to credit the drug company for the publicity that they’re getting for securing Deen as spokeswoman…TODAY, countless mentions on CNN, pretty much every major outlet around. It’s more than a PR grandslam as far as getting the drug’s name out.  For that, I can be in a little bit of awe.

Courtesy: The Today Show

But from an ethical standpoint, both the company and Paula have gone too far.  It’s hypocritical: A woman who loves to cook with butter, sugar and pretty much every bad-for-you agreement is now giving implied medical advice (and earning money) by endorsing a drug for a disease that can be prevented with healthier eating habits.  No, I’m not a doctor, but I think that’s generally understood.

I’m not sure if there’s a competitor product to the drug that Deen has endorsed but, if so, I hope that those who need that type of medication support another company.

For my part, I’m glad there are not any Paula Deen cookbooks on my shelf.  Sometimes, I would watch her Food Network shows as pure entertainment…look at all that butter!! No more.

BTW, Paula, saying that you’ve given up sweet tea as a talking point doesn’t make the fact that you’re a diabetes spokesman any better.

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