How to rock Zoom and podcast media interviews

The pandemic has made video and audio interviews more commonplace.

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Being confined to working from home has accelerated the use of video calls and opened up a new, easy and accepted way for the media and businesses to create video content.

Similarly, podcast interviews can be recorded online with participants sitting anywhere in the world.

Many of the UK’s biggest broadcasters have switched to online recording as safe way to produce content instead of in-person interviews.

Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s Ways To Change The World podcast (a favourite of mine) is just one example.

What all this means is the likelihood of being asked to do a video or audio interview is increasing.

But do you know the dos and don’ts so that you look and sound your best?

Here are a few key pointers:

Zoom video interviews

Camera position: Have your computer’s camera (or external camera) at eye level so you are looking directly at it, rather than down or up. (It’s generally a more flattering angle too.)

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‘Will a journalist correct my grammar in a quote?’

When I do my media training sessions a common question is about how the journalist will quote you.

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There is a fear that what you say will appear verbatim regardless of repetition, verbal ticks such as using ‘like’ and slips in grammar.

What you have to remember is that very few of us speak with the sort of grammatical precision you’d see printed.

Live news presenters are perhaps the most polished but they are highly experienced and they still don’t always speak perfectly.

We all repeat ourselves, stutter and stumble over our words occasionally. We speak in incomplete sentences or miss words, say ‘um’.

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Do you target your content pitches and press releases appropriately?

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Earlier this year Hubspot surveyed 500 journalists about PR tactics for pitching stories that were counter-productive (link to piece at the bottom).

That’s the polite way of saying they drew up a list of what irks journalists.

I’m sure there won’t be anything on the list to surprise seasoned PR’s – and this isn’t a post about dos and don’ts* – but there is one broader lesson: ‘Know the audience’.

Research the audience

When pitching to journalists this means not only knowing their patch but also understanding the publication/website and who its audience is.

I’ve worked with many brilliant PR’s over the years but the one who regularly sent me stories about window boxes wasn’t one of them.

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Do you have something to say?

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Opinion pieces have been part of my working life for many years.

As a journalist on a weekly business magazine, I used to commission and edit guest columns. Now as a freelance, I ghost-write them for clients who don’t have the time or find writing difficult or a chore. 

I also help people get better at writing them as part of my in-house writing workshops.

Common mistake

When I was an editor and people pitched their opinion piece ideas to me, the most common mistake was an obvious one: Their idea lacked an actual opinion.

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Media training that demystifies B2B journalism

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When I was B2B property journalist, expert sources were essential to my job.

They gave me stories, feature ideas and valuable comment.

Over the years I gathered a core group of industry insiders who were my go-to people when I was looking for information or help or an opinion on a breaking story.

Reliable and honest

My expert sources were reliable, available and honest, and as a result, they got plenty of coverage.

As part of my in-house B2B media training, I talk about the importance of building up relationships with journalists within your industry, what they are looking for and how to get quoted.

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