by Tim Dewald

August 4, 2020

The new reality of remote work has forced us all to adapt ourselves to different routines. When it comes to interacting with the media, stay-at-home orders and lockdowns have amplified existing remote interview trends—pushing media interviews away from studios and satellite trucks and into our home offices and living rooms. Today, entire newsrooms operate in a remote environment and we’re being welcomed into the homes of multiple guests daily (we’re also grading those home set ups rather harshly).

While the basics of conducting a media interview remain unchanged, there are some special considerations you’ll want to keep in mind for a remote interview in today’s environment.

Homework is Still Key

Maybe it’s the fact you’re a couple steps away from bed, or that you don’t need to wear pants (however, I recommend it just in case), but it’s important not to get lulled into a feeling of comfort. It may feel less formal being at home without the lights and cameras, but the stakes are still just as high. Consider the following when preparing for an interview:

  • Make sure you have key messages in mind that you want to communicate – we recommend having no more than three.
  • Ensure you have recently updated talking points around important priorities.
  • Research who you’ll be talking to, figure out some questions they are likely to ask, and pay special attention to the questions that worry you the most. Hoping you don’t get asked about something is a really poor strategy.

Remember, the most important part of your interview happens before your camera is even turned on.

Reorient Yourself to the World

We’re in the midst of a pandemic that has fundamentally altered lives around the globe. The United States is currently grappling with social unrest fomenting from years of inequities and racism, and oh yeah, we’re about to enter an election season.

If you haven’t done so, it’s worth taking the time to measure your communication against today’s yard stick. Here in Cleveland, our City Council has declared racism a public health crisis and more than 100 organizations have announced a commitment to take immediate and sustained action. The election season will only accelerate the news cycle. Now more than ever, it’s critical that organizations know where they stand on the issues, what they are and are not willing to talk about, and the action they are taking to address the issues at hand. To discuss this coherently, it’s going to take preparation.

Don’t Look Like a Creep

Look, I didn’t include that link to Room Rater’s Twitter account for nothing. Take a look through these posts. You’ll find some really great examples along with some poor ones (no one wants to look up your nose BTW.) And if you think this doesn’t matter, it does. They create an immediate visual impression of you for the audience. Busy backgrounds or poor quality can distract your viewer and hamper the delivery of your message. Take a few minutes for a walk around your home or apartment to find the spot with natural lighting and an interesting, but neutral background. You can of course, go overboard.

For more great tips and tricks on how you can immediately improve your video call set up, check out my colleague Kevin Poor’s blog.

Remember, even in today’s unique times the most challenging parts of the interview process are the moments no one ever sees. Preparation is key. We help individuals from all kinds of organizations prepare for media interviews and I’d love to discuss how we can help you.