Blogger: Kathleen Y’Barbo, Publicist
Location: The Woodlands, Texas Publicity Office
Weather: Sunny and 72 degrees
Every time an author looks into a camera, clips on a microphone, or speaks at an event covered by reporters, an opportunity for publicity–good or bad–exists. We’ve all seen evidence of what happens when the subject of an interview is unprepared. Perhaps you’ve even had that experience at some point. With a little planning, mastering the media is practically painless.
Six tips for mastering the media:
1. Never wing it! Do your homework. Have someone throw questions at you–hard ones! Keep your answers to around 30-40 seconds, if at all possible.
2. Set goals for each interview or appearance. Keeping those goals in mind will prevent you from wandering in circles or getting off track. Remember the purpose for coming. Spend a few moments defining this and, if it helps, writing it on a card to keep with you.
3. Remember nothing is ever off the record! Assume the microphone is always on and the tape is always rolling. If you don’t know an answer, say so. If the reporter engages you in conversation during commercial breaks, be mindful of what you say. Never trash someone else’s book, another author, an editor, or a publishing house. Your mother told you to be nice…do it!
4. Watch your body language. A stiff demeanor will give a negative impression to the audience. Even on an audio interview, a case of nerves is often readily apparent. Take a moment to reduce your nerves by walking around the studio or doing something to distract you from the situation at hand.
5. Learn how to bridge. “Bridging” is a technique for transitioning back to the purpose of the interview (see point #2). First answer the direct question as briefly as possible, then turn the topic back to your message. Try not to use the phrase, “in my book” while bridging.
6. It’s not over when it’s over. Be sure to send a thank-you note to your interviewer. Email notes will suffice, but I’ve found authors rarely take the time to send something the old fashioned way through snail mail. Be that author. Likely he or she is the one who will be remembered. Also, track your sales for any upward trend after an interview or appearance. Make note of any sales activity so as to better plan your events for the next book.
Still nervous about doing the interview? A number of great books are out there on the topic. Find one and read it. A personal favorite of mine is How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere: The Secrets of Good Conversation by Larry King (ISBN 9780517884539). Who knows? If you apply these tips, perhaps Larry will want to talk to you!
Now, tell me what you’ve learned about interviews…what to do? What not to do?