Blog Post

Do as I say, not as I do! Appearing on Radio 4’s The Media Show

As predicted, despite having been a broadcast journalist for many years and media training spokespeople for almost as long, it’s still quite a nail-biting experience to go on live radio. That’s what I concluded after being invited to take part in Radio 4’s live programme, The Media Show, last week.

The nerves for me were in case I failed to live up to my own media training manual; how can I tell other spokespeople how to perform on television and radio if I made a shambles of it myself?! In hindsight I think it’s very useful to occasionally jump to the other side of the fence.

As a broadcast journalist I’d think nothing of popping into a studio and going on air and maybe that’s just the point: when you do something every day it becomes second nature, but when it only happens once in a blue moon it’s a much bigger deal.

Live radio is a huge opportunity to sell and promote

For our clients there’s the added pressure that an appearance on national radio or television is often the culmination of a long-term marketing and PR strategy, into which they’ve made a big investment.

“The 3 Ps: preparation, presentation and performance”

It’s not just an interview, a broadcast opportunity is ultimately a huge chance to sell, promote and even shift market perception about a brand or product. They don’t want to mess up.

So, in looking back at my own appearance, I tried to assess myself as I do my media training clients, in terms of the 3 Ps: preparation, presentation and performance. I definitely thought about who the audience was – all those media undergraduates, their professors, newsrooms, shift-workers at home in the middle of the afternoon and Radio 4 lovers who are tuned into the station regardless of what’s on.

Oh, and my Mum and I think the team at Shout! Communications too. I knew there were other people on the panel and I interferingly told fellow guest, the Sky Teatime presenter Mark Austin, that we were there to talk about a new degree in journalism and PR, when in fact he was there to push his book.

Always think about your audience when speaking

Just in time I remembered to ask The Media Show presenter Andrea Catherwood what her first question to me was going to be.  Lucky I did, because it wasn’t about the said degree at all, it concerned the blog I’d written the week before, about preparing to go on The Media Show. Yep, I’d forgotten that journalists like their little joke!

How well then did I present myself…when you get a moment in the spotlight we ask our spokespeople who they want to be. I’m an ex-journalist who has worked in PR for at least as long; I employ staff and I want to promote our services to PR agencies and in-house communications’ teams who outsource their broadcast PR work. I wanted to come across with a bit of gravitas, as if I knew what I was talking about! I’ve no idea if that’s the impression I created!

Most of us find television even more challenging than radio, so it added a frisson of tension to the afternoon to be told The Media Show is also recorded on camera – only a webcam, so thankfully nothing too close up!

Stay conversational and relaxed throughout

For a wider broadcast PR campaign, however, I’d urge you to dress to impress – you might start off with a slot on radio, but if it’s a story that’s getting attention in the news, you might be grabbed for a quick TV interview too, whilst you’re still in New Broadcasting House, the BBC’s offices near Oxford Circus.   

Finally, performance.  Be conversational on radio, we say – easier said than done I know.   The prefect spokesperson is authoritative, opinionated, entertaining and presentable, I tell my delegates.  Wow, that’s a big ask, maybe I should be a bit less demanding!    

See how I did here!

However, the ultimate question of whether you’ve done a good “turn” on air is answered if you get asked back as a repeat guest.  Watch this space! I hope I am.

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