Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Owning Your Media Interview

When you’re being interviewed by the news media, you should be aware of a number of things to do – or avoid.  Here are 11 tips to chew on:

1.      Be mindful of the ground-rules

Basically, when you talk to the media it is all on the record – unless you agree ahead of time that some or all is not.  In any case, be aware that you are talking to someone who can share what you say with others.

2.      Remember why they are interviewing you

They want to hear something interesting, new, or unique about the story angle or topic that you pitched to them.  Be prepared to provide ideas, facts, and stories to support your claims.

3.      Be pro-active

Everyone’s time is limited, so use it effectively.  Your goal is to be on the offense and project a positive image.  You won’t get that from being defensive, neutral, or conservative.

4.      Project energy and enthusiasm

 No one wants to listen to a low-talking, slow-talking, half-comatose expert.  Express excitement and people will feel the momentum.  It can be contagious – electrify others, rather than get electrocuted.

5.      Don’t ramble

Keep answers concise, compact and focused.  Express one idea at a time.

6.      Respond with a direct answer

Open your remarks by saying something that sounds definitive and conclusive:

·         “The most important thing is…”
·         “The top priority is…”
·         “A key point is…”
·         “Look, the bottom line is…”
·         “There’s a clear choice to be made between…”
·         “My biggest concern is…”

7.      Bridge from the question you dislike to the answer you want

Often, you will be asked a question that you don’t really know the answer to, would rather not address, seems to attack you or at least puts you in a jam.  So what do you do?  You try to dance around it and lead into something you’d like rather talk about.  You briefly use a few words to acknowledge their question and then move in to what you’d rather speak on.  You can say something like:

·         “Well, I’m not so sure about that, but I am sure that…”
·         “Time will tell if there’s merit to that, but I can tell you that right now we…”
·         “I don’t want to get into the specifics of that right now, but I will tell you that…”

8.      Body language counts

Even if you’re talking by phone to the media, they can sense your body language.  Certainly, in person, people can see your facial expressions, posture, hand gestures, tone of voice, eye contact, and overall demeanor.  It makes an impression, so make it a positive one.

9.      Be quotable

State a strong fact.  Voice an outrageous opinion.  Warn about something.  Reveal a secret.  Or use colorful language, analogies, and humor to be memorable.  Think like the media – they want a headline.

10.  Don’t do these things

Never disparage others; talk yourself up instead.  Don’t repeat negatives; stick with positives.  Avoid jargon or arcane terms.  Do not sound annoyed or flustered.  Temper your use of sarcasm – many may not get it.  Be careful not to guess or speculate.  Don’t try to be an expert beyond your field.

11.  Finish strong

Come back in the end to a core message or theme and repeatedly hit on it.

EXCERPTS FROM: Being Good: An Introduction to Ethics by Simon Blackburn

“An impartial moral law can bear very unevenly on different people, and it is little wonder if people become disenchanted by an ethics largely maintained by those who do not have to live it.”

“People are not, for instance, born free – they are born into a civil order that will impose duties and obligations on them.  They do not remain free in all kinds of respects, and they are not born equal and don’t remain equal in all kinds of ways either.  But the intention will be to criticize the existing order in the name of these ideals, or to work for an ideal that incorporates some notion of basic equality (equality before the law, for instance) and some central menu of freedoms.”

“Again, even when we live benevolent, admired lives according to the standards of our times, we can fear that had things been tougher we would have joined the fallen.  If we are good, it may be because we were never tempted enough, or frightened enough, or put in desperate enough need.  We can also fear the restless evil in the human heart.  We know that neither success nor suffering ennobles people.  In such a mood, we can be overwhelmed just by the relentless human capacity for making life horrible for others.  The right reaction is not to succumb to the mood, but to reflect that the cure lies in our own hands.”

Interview With Author Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo

What type of books do you write? Currently I have one book out and it is in the nonfiction, memoir category.

What is your newest book about? The book is about an old rescued ranch horse and all the amazing things he has done since he was rescued. After he suffered a near fatal accident, he moved on to being a mentor for a young girl and later went on to become a therapy horse for special needs riders. 

What inspired you to write it? Pie's story was so inspiring and made people feel so good, I really had no choice but to write it. 

What is the writing process like for you? The book floated around in my head for months and then I finally put it on paper. After I wrote the rough draft, I went back and fleshed out and put in anything I missed. 

What did you do before you became an author? I'm still doing what I was doing before the book. I work at an alternative junior high during the day and work with horses and dogs at night. 

How does it feel to be a published author? I am a lot busier than I was before the book came out. Now I have all the social promotions to do online. I really wasn't expecting that, but it is what it is. 

Any advice for struggling writers? If you want to write, write. Don't let anyone talk you out of it. Find the reason you want to write and do it for that. 

Where do you see book publishing heading? I see it heading to mostly online books ordered on demand. The brick and mortar bookstore will be a specialty spot and not near as common as they are now. 

Books Excerpt from The United States of Incompetence by Art Carey

“No society can function without widely accepted norms of behavior and standards of conduct.  In the name of freedom and fulfillment, we Americans have become self-centered, irresponsible, and undisciplined.  We lack self-control and a sense of stewardship.  Knowingly, we are squandering our resources and shortchanging our children.  Our promises are enforced by lawyers.  The wheels of commerce and industry are greased by sleaze… In the face of growing social problems, we anesthetize ourselves with drugs and mindless TV, shirking responsibility, grabbing for all the gusts we can get, boogieing into the apocalypse.  Many of us no longer believe in anything above and beyond ourselves… There are those who lament that we’ve lost our gentility, that we’ve lost our manners and politeness.  Actually, we’ve gone far beyond that today.  We have lost our civility – that mutual respect among citizens which is the basis for civilization. We have lost what F. Scott Fitzgerald once called ‘a sense of the fundamental decencies.’ We’ve lost our reverence for human life itself.” 

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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