Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype or Webex media interviews are now a permanent feature of news gathering. The pandemic forced many of us, including reporters, to work remotely. What we’ve all lost is the face-to-face “personal touchpoint.” But you can’t dispute the advantages of the technology, and how it has helped the media and the rest of the world stay connected.

One of the benefits of the remote interview is the comfort factor. You don’t have to drive to a studio or somewhere else to meet the reporter. You can do the interview from your office or home. For a television interview, this means you avoid the camera, bright lights and microphone in your face that can sometimes be intimidating.

There are some mandatory technical “must dos” for any remote media interview via your computer or mobile device. And don’t forget the preparation that is critical for any successful interview—message development—I’ll share more on that later.

First, some guidelines on getting your device and interview setting right.

  • Don’t rush right before the interview. Test your computer a day before.
  • Make sure technology is working well and Internet connection is strong
  • Find a location that’s quiet, without distractions or background noise
  • Check how the lighting looks on your face and background; a ring light is the go-to accessory, but be careful on where you place it to avoid creating shadows
  • Have a clean, uncluttered background and don’t sit/stand in front of a window that will create backlighting
  • Use virtual backgrounds where appropriate and adjust backgrounds to fit the segment
  • Place your device at eye level and avoid showing ceilings
  • Wear appropriate attire; consider wearing something with your company logo, but not clothing with a third-party brand or slogan
  • Utilize talking points and position near the computer camera so you’re still looking at the camera
  • Use props where appropriate and offer b-roll photos or video to enhance the story

The technical setup and your overall appearance are, of course, important. But the content of your interview must be your primary focus, and this demands the proper preparation. You will come across as a true expert when you speak strongly and assuredly about the topic.

Here some “must dos” before any interview.

  • Be prepared. Make sure you and the reporter are clear about the topic(s). Ask for the questions in advance or at least get the direction of the story. Find out how long the interview will be, and feel comfortable setting a time limit in advance.
  • Develop key messages. Prepare two or three “go-to” messages that you can fit in your answer to any question. If you have the questions in advance, prepare a message for each one, but don’t read them verbatim during the interview.
  • Be clear. Stick to the topic and answer only the question asked.
  • For TV, keep your answers brief.
  • Show enthusiasm. You’re being interviewed for your expertise so your demeaner should demonstrate confidence and real interest
  • Meet a negative question with a positive response using your key messages
  • Be proactive and drive the interview when you get an opportunity
  • Read out loud each of your key messages. Re-work any that are not easily understood.

Whether remote or in person, media interviews will continue to be a great way to bring awareness and support to your organization. If you want to expand and improve your media interactions, media training is always worthwhile and will instill a level of comfort and confidence.

The Marx Layne media training team includes seasoned experts with wide-ranging experience working with the news media and other key audiences when managing media. Our professionals have a keen understanding of how the media works and know best how to engage with reporters. For more information, visit www.marxlayne.com.