By Nelson Hudes
Famous film star Gloria Swanson said it best when, as silent film star Norma Desmond, she marched down the staircase of her dilapidated mansion, stared deep into the cameras, eyes wide and focused, and exclaimed “I’m ready for my close-up now, Mr. DeMille.” That concluding scene in the film Sunset Boulevard is a classic of modern cinema – but it’s also very relevant to our discussion here today. Because this time around we’re talking about the need to put your best face forward when dealing with cameras, microphones or newspaper reporters.
But making a great impression with the media can be challenging when you’re trying to run a small or medium-sized business. Being a businessperson means you have to wear a lot of different hats. One day you’re the salesperson, the next you’re serving as the bookkeeper. And when the media calls you up asking for a quote or an interview you have to put on your public relations managers hat, too. Talk about a stressful, challenging situation for a businessperson to be placed in!
That’s why, as a businessperson who needs to project a positive image to potential clients and to the public at large, you should always be ready for your very own close-ups, just like faded starlet Norma Desmond was in Sunset Boulevard!
Many of my own clients have appeared on national and local television and radio shows, and have been interviewed frequently for newspapers and magazines. I help prepare them for these interviews by providing them with some simple rules that I hope will also help you when you’re called upon by the media. By following these rules you can ensure the success of any media event you’re involved in:
Look & Act Professional At All Times: Always look and act the role of the successful businessperson. That means showing up early for each interview (you’ll need to allow time for the make-up people to prepare you or the station producer to speak with you). And when you show up, ensure you are dressed in a professional, business-like manner with flattering colors and clean, pressed clothing. You’ll also need to be well-groomed – tidy hair, appropriate make-up and a minimum of jewelry. The better you look, the more confident you will feel and that confidence will radiate out to your interviewer, and the audience watching you.
Show Up & Be Ready To Roll: Being professional also means NEVER canceling an interview at the last minute – that also means never saying “no” to an interview. Saying “no” forces the media person calling you to go on to the next expert on their list, effectively bypassing you in future. Never miss an opportunity to spread your message. When you do arrive for your interview be aware that the producer could ask you to get on-camera or on-microphone at any time (many shows don’t give their guests ample warning of when their spot is coming up).
Bring A Press Kit: Being prepared to meet the media also means having a press kit, something every organization must have ready to pass out to any media that request it. A simple press kit should contain an overview of your organization and its goals, a release highlighting what services your organization provides and any brochures or supporting documentation you feel would help illustrate just want your organization is all about. Include any recent releases that highlight announcements about company events or products – these will help the interviewer focus in on what’s important to you. House the entire kit in an attractive cardboard folder and attach your business card and you’re all set!
Control The Interview: Some members of the media like to put their interview subjects “on the spot” by asking tough or challenging questions. It’s essential that, if you’re dealing with a difficult issue or company-related crisis that involves the media, you remember to keep your cool and do your very best to come across as calm and professional in any interviews you do. First off, don’t “shoot from the hip” – always have five or six key points that are the most important messages you want to convey committed to memory so that answers are consistent, concise and succinct. Whenever the interviewer changes the subject, remember your messages and bring the discussion back around to the points YOU need to cover. And never say “no comment” – it conveys to the audience that you have something to hide, even when you don’t. Find a way to answer the interviewer’s question in a way that will answer it but also convey your organization’s message in a positive manner.
Cultivate Good Media Relations: Cultivating good media relationships that will benefit you for years to come is essential to your success as a small or medium-sized businessperson. By promptly returning calls to media representatives, including editors or producers, you will make yourself valuable as a resource to them. Treat them well and they will remember it – treat them shoddily and they’ll remember that treatment even more.
Being a friend of the media could mean an increase in your organization’s visibility to existing and potential clients. It’s also an excellent opportunity to outshine your competitors, no matter how large they might be. By making yourself available to the media, and by following the simple tips I’ve provided in this month’s column, you could become that all-important resource your media contacts depend on for a quick quote or interesting interview. Being prepared allows you to keep your face, your name and your organization front-and-center, and potentially improving your organization’s bottom line as a result.
Are you ready for your close-up?
Nelson Hudes is President Of Hudes Communications International, a PR firm that has had its clients featured in numerous media in the USA and Canada including INC MAGAZINE, THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER, as well as on THE CONAN O’BRIEN SHOW. Hudes has the uncanny ability to spin a story making it irresistible to editors and reporters. For more information on how Hudes Communications International can help your company obtain media exposure, visit www.hudescommunications.com or contact Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (905) 660-9155