“Why am I only on TV for 6 seconds?”

Many clients ask me, “…when TV crews come to film, they interview me for eight minutes, shoot other interviews and things for an additional 20 minutes.  So why is the entire TV story only two minutes long with a total of SIX seconds of me?”  It is a great question.

During interviews in the past, I would stand either behind the photojournalist or just out of frame to make sure my client stays on message, isn’t caught off-guard by wayward questions and for me to jump in at the end if they forgot to something critical.

(Secret Sauce #1)

However, one thing I have done recently for both new clients with zero interview experience and with CEOs who are super savvy…is to record the interview myself.  I stand just off-camera and shoot the entire thing on my phone.  My video isn’t for broadcast, but for education…so my personal bobbles don’t matter.  Immediately after the crew leaves, I AirDrop the video to the client and tell them to pick the three soundbites they think the reporter will use.  With the insight of being a 17-year veteran TV reporter, I do the same. It is a good exercise for both of us.

The day after the story airs, we circle up for a debrief. 1) what they thought of the story 2) if what they wanted was conveyed to the viewers 3) if their soundbites were chosen and 4) why (in my opinion) the story didn’t include other sound.  This practice allows the client to better understand the TV beast and also give me another value-add.

The fact I record the interview as well allows me to watch other things about the interview outside of the interview.  I can see if my client sways, where they look, what they do with their hands, what their body language says, what they are saying when they aren’t talking, etc.  Sometimes those are the reasons that the reporter doesn’t use the sound.  And we talk about all of that.

(Extra dose of Secret Sauce)

In addition, after the interview is over, I also give my clients the address of both the reporter and the often-forgotten photojournalist.  Not their email address…but the station’s physical address.  Some clients think it is a pain, but a handwritten thank you note sent via Snail Mail is heartfelt and goes a long way to developing media relationships. For most reporters (believe me) it is nice to get a thank you instead of a door slammed in your face or a “why are you here you vulture,” or “you are just full of fake news,” which happens more often than the public thinks.  Why else?  Some news directors require unreasonable things on a daily basis and for a reporter to have a physical thank you in their back pocket could go a long way.  In addition to the written message, business cards should be added to the envelope with “if you ever need anything related to (finances, child abuse, tariffs, etc.) give me a call.  If I can’t help you, I will definitely give you a new contact name.”

Finally, the card usually sits on a reporter’s desk (see above), and could be the first and last thing he or she sees during the grind of a day.  Wouldn’t we all like to have that positive reinforcement before we clock in?

Based in Kansas City, Robb Yagmin is the founder, president and janitor of PSPR.  He specializes in media mentoring, product pitching and story slinging.


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