Media Training Worldwide

Using social media to ace the pre-interview

BY TJ Walker

Major broadcast network TV shows and syndicated programs will often want to do what is called a pre-interview with you before committing to a final booking with you. So you may have impressed a booker on the Today Show or Oprah enough to call you and express interest in you based on your purported area of expertise. But believe me, you are still a long, long way from actually getting on the set. You will still have to jump through several more hoops, namely a pre-interview or two. “Pre-interview” is actually a misnomer. It is actually an interview over the phone; it’s just that no one will ever see or hear the results of this interview except for the producer who is asking you the questions. The producer is trying to figure out if you are good enough, interesting enough or have the right point of view for the story.

So where does social media video come into play in all of this? Ask the producer what questions/topics they would like you to discuss for the segment. Often times the producers will send you likely questions. If they don’t volunteer the questions, you can ask for them. Then, ask them what the length of time would be for your face time on the show. Ideally, you are given 4 or five sample questions and told a time limit of, say, 3 minutes.

What most people do is just wait for the producer to call back and often answer the questions live. The problem with this approach is that if you get off on the wrong foot, or if your phone connection is sketchy or if the producer is tired at the end of a long day, you might be instantly scratched as a possible question on a TV forum with a multi-million audience. Ouch!

Here’s what I do. I have a colleague pose as a reporter or host and ask me the very same questions sent by the producer. We videotape the whole segment in one shot so that the producer can see me and hear me and see that the video was not edited together to make me look good. I shoot the simulated interview at the same length as the face time I would receive for the actual TV segment, in this case, three minutes. Then I quickly upload the video to YouTube and I send the link to the producer—in less than one hour! Now, I have accomplished the following things:

  1. 1.               The producer can see how I look and that I won’t scare off the audience. This includes dressing in an appropriate manner and sounding and acting in a professional manner.
  2. 2.               The producer can see that I can answers in a succinct manner and can hit all the important points within the total time limits of 3 minutes.
  3. 3.                The producer can actually see me interacting with another person and that I can provide the content in an engaging and conversational manner.
  4. 4.               The producer now has an easy way of transcribing exactly what my answers are in order to create graphics to support the ideas and to further brief the host and other producers and reporters working on the show.
  5. 5.               The producer no longer has to guess on how I will come across on Video; he/she can see exactly what I am all about.
  6. 6.               The producer now respects me a professional who is quick, easy to work with and willing and able to make his/her life easier.
  7. 7.               I have proven that I am enthusiastic about their show and willing to do work for them without being difficult.

Additionally, I benefit because if I do a rehearsal video with my colleague and I screw up, I just delete it and record another one. If I tape another version and I watch it and still don’t like it I can do it over again until I am happy.

I can’t guarantee this will get you the final booking, but I can assure you that this will dramatically increase your chances and cast you in a favorable light compared to your competitors. Personally speaking, every single time I have ever used this approach I have ended up getting booked. Try it.

*Extra bonus—you now have more content for your own web sites and YouTube channels. Just label the video with a provocative title and the video content can and should stand on its own for your clients, fans and followers.

 

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