Acing a Virtual Media Interview
In December 2019, the video conferencing platform Zoom had 10 million users. By mid-April, this number had grown to 300 million daily users, who were utilizing it to connect with colleagues, clients and partners while sheltering in place due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts also saw a surge in downloads in late March, demonstrating that people sought to connect with others even if they couldn’t have in-person conversations.
Video conferencing is arguably the next best thing to face-to-face meetings. If you’re in a marketing or leadership role, it’s likely that you’ll need to conduct a virtual media interview at some point. Understanding the do’s and don’ts of this type of interview can help you present yourself as an expert and your company in a good light.
Remote Interviews Go Mainstream
Follow these best practices for a successful online media interview:
- Consider the backdrop – Make sure to carefully select an area within your indoor environment that is optimal for a video interview. While not everyone has a home-office, you should be able to set up a makeshift desk at a normal height and avoid any distracting signage and pictures in the background. Consider the lighting as well so that you are properly backlit and that outdoor light is not washing out your face. Make sure all members of your household know not to interrupt the interview by walking in or creating background noise.
- Dress the part – Dress according to the situation. For example, if you’re promoting a new fundraising initiative, you may want to wear the official t-shirt or polo for your organization or the campaign. If you’re offering insightful information and tips to a television outlet, opt for more professional attire and avoid distracting stripes, patterns and colors. Overall, choosing the right attire helps make your interview more compelling and your voice more credible.
- Rehearse your talking points – Just like with a phone interview or an in-person interview, you should stick to pre-planned messaging and rehearse it to boost confidence in your delivery. Review your talking points and prepare for potential follow-up questions that may arise. As video interviews are often recorded and featured on television or online, you’ll want to be succinct in your responses while still hitting on all the key messages. Practicing also helps you reduce the occurrence of fillers such as “um” and “ah.”
- Showcase engagement – There are several ways you can express engagement during a video interview, using both body language and phrasing. For instance, nod to show agreement and acknowledge you’ve understood a question. Use facial expressions like smiling and raised eyebrows if the situation allows or shift to more refined expressions if the interview topic is more serious or somber. Use hand gestures when appropriate but try not to overuse, as these may be distracting. Additionally, rely on transitional phrases to make your responses less robotic, like “thanks for that question,” and “that’s a great point, and I’d like to add…”
A Seamless Experience
Video interviews have become more popular during the pandemic, and they will continue to be an easy method for connecting individuals who are separated by distance. While it’s sometimes impossible to prevent connectivity issues and interruptions at your home or workspace, there are certain strategies that help ensure an effective video interview. Whether you’re lending expertise regarding a topic of importance, responding to a crisis or launching a new product, service or initiative, it’s important to take time to prepare for a media interview from home so you feel comfortable, confident and ready to go live.
Make sure you know how to prepare for a media interview and hit your talking points during the conversation. Contact us to discuss best practices for media relations.
Jess Messenger is an Account Director at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. She enjoys developing PR campaign strategies and writing for B2B audiences across numerous verticals such as retail, foodservice and healthcare.