I got the call last week: ABC wanted me to be on a morning news show to talk about the technology behind the Oscars. Five years ago, I probably would have started hyperventilating. Thanks to experience and practice, I was cool and calm -- before, during, and after the live broadcast.
A random TV appearance is not going to transform your business. It needs to be part of a larger PR and marketing strategy. Even then, you need to have real news or a unique perspective to get noticed by the media. Above all, be patient. If you decide to hire an agency or publicist (which I strongly recommend), choose wisely.
Now, fast-forward. You've done all the right things and you get that phone call from a producer. Here are my time-tested do's and don'ts.
1. If you've never been on-air before, get professional media training. A great trainer will not only teach you how to stay on message and respond to tough questions, but will even show you how to sit, breathe, pace your speech, and recover from a mistake.
2. Invest in professional hair and make-up services. Bright lights are unforgiving. Be sure you're working with someone who has experience prepping people for TV -- not for weddings or headshots.
3. Practice, practice, and practice some more. Enlist a colleague to play interviewer and encourage him or her to try to throw you off your game. Know your facts. Watch other experienced professionals being interviewed and learn from what they do. Most important, be sure you're sharing information and facts that viewers might find interesting, inspiring, educational, or humorous.
4. Do not let nerves get the best of you. A colleague of mine got so rattled that he forgot to mention the name of his business throughout the interview. Try to forget that the camera is in front of you and focus on having a conversation with the interviewer. If you're part of a panel, smile and nod when other people are speaking (unless, of course, you were brought on air to represent opposing sides, in which case you can look appropriately disturbed).
5. Be sure to promote your media appearance -- before, during, and after the cameras roll. Use social media and even your email signature to let people know that you were chosen as an expert by the media. It may feel narcissistic, but third-party endorsements can build your brand awareness and credibility.
Make sure you send the producer a thank you note and let him or her know you're available for future appearances. Media begets more media.
Remember too that although being at a TV station can be cool and exhilarating, focus on the media that your target market is consuming. Radio, online, and even targeted print can be highly effective media, depending on your product/service and audience. Separate ego from objectives and you'll be a business star -- on or off screen.