I was recently interviewed for London Live TV about an investigation I’d written for The Mail Online. Journalists are often interviewed on TV if what they’ve written about is a juicy story or an exclusive. As an author, I’m also interviewed a lot whenever something I’ve written about in my books suddenly becomes in the news for some reason.
TV and radio interviews requests are always last minute. My story went up at noon. It was about dubious adverts on Craigslist offering ‘free’ rent to female tenants in exchange for a sexual relationship with the landlord. Nice!
A freelance writer often doesn’t know when their stories go live because news desks are so busy, an editor can’t possibly let everyone go. All they care about is the story, not the people involved (as we embellish on in our PR Ultimate training days!). And is also why the journalist rarely lets the PR know too.
The first I heard about my story going live was when I received a tweet from an Evening Standard journalist who wanted to interview me about the story.
I’d done an undercover ‘sting’ on Craigslist, posed as 26-year-old student (if only every job allowed me to pretend to be more than ten years younger!) and responded to some of the ads. The Evening Standard didn’t necessarily want me to write anything, they wanted to interview me on what I had found. Newspapers often follow each other like that. A journalist can write about their experiences or findings for one paper, and then another paper will jump on it, and write it up in their own words using the original journalist as an interviewee. And no, the journalist does not get paid twice for this!
No sooner had that happened, I was asked to go onto London Live TV. There’s rarely time to plan when it comes to TV news interviews. In our broadcast interview training courses, many delegates ask us how long you get to prepare for a TV interview. The answer is usually the time it takes you to make the journey there! I was excited to see London Live’s set up, based inside the News Association building in High Street Ken (the same building as the Evening Standard, Metro and The Daily Mail).
News won’t wait for you, which is why you should always accept an interview. Don’t expect a grand welcome either. News is fast and they have several guests an hour. At London Live there is no hair and makeup. Even on terrestrial TV like Channel Five News and BBC Breakfast, which I’ve appeared on several times, the make-up artists are usually stretched and love it if you turn up already done up so all they have to do is touch you up.
Don’t expect feedback either. After every TV appearance I’m simply ushered out. No one tells you whether ‘it was ok’ or not, although of course that’s what every guest wants to know. Producers aren’t there to give personal feedback. They are thinking about the bigger picture – keeping the air filled and running to time. As a TV guest you’re simply a prop to fill some of their air time.
We’ll be covering loads of anecdotes and tips like these, and how best to prepare for a TV interview on our NEW broadcast PR course on December 1st. You can book tickets here.
If you want to see my interview on London Live, you can see it here: