By Roz Morris, Managing Director, TV News London Ltd
'Twinkle for the camera' has always been a favourite phrase when we are training TV presenters. If they don’t twinkle. People won’t warm to them.
So why do you need to know about twinkling if you’re not a TV presenter? Well in the last couple of years with the huge growth of social media and online videos, it’s no longer enough just to have still pictures on your LinkedIn page or your other social media accounts.
You need to know how to make short videos and talk to your customers. Research shows that people respond better to your messages if they have a video or a picture. They remember more. They start to relate to you as a person. This is networking 21st-century style.
This is not just for celebrities with their millions of fans, it works for businesses too. Small businesses can use online video to build a market and increase growth.
Have you noticed how just this year on LinkedIn, there are now more and more videos and they start talking to you as you scroll over them?
This constant talking is the future. And it can only grow. Latest YouTube stats show under 10% of small businesses have a YouTube channel. Unlike large businesses, the majority of small businesses haven’t woken up to the fact that YouTube currently attracts about one-third of users on the internet with 150 million hours of YouTube content watched every day.
There are over 60 million active business pages on Facebook and research shows that videos get the highest engagement rating from Facebook users despite currently making up only 3 percent of content published.
As a broadcaster and a media trainer for more than 20 years, I’m used to helping spokespeople to get their messages across in radio and TV interviews. Now I’m also helping people to speak directly to their customers and potential customers through their own short online videos. Because, even though your equipment can be as basic as your smartphone, you can still make simple mistakes and spoil your message by looking unprofessional.
Some common mistakes include – untidy hair, fussy clothes, fussy setting/background, standing against the light near a window so your face is in shadow, and being hesitant and looking worried i.e. .not twinkling! It’s not as easy as it looks to do this well.
If you’d like to know how to do this properly, why not join me at one of my ‘ Twinkle for the Camera’ Workshop on Thursday 22 November in Central London? You can practice talking to your phone or tablet with expert advice on content and performance.
This interactive session will help you to:
• Look your best in online videos and in TV interview
• Define your key messages and convince people you are worth listening to
• Gain business through using video to increase your online profile
Find out more info here: http://www.tvnewslondon.co.uk/courses.aspx
Watch my video below:
16 October 2018
By Roz Morris, Managing Director, TV News London Ltd
Why you should sit up straight and look confident
Television interviews are conversational. They sometimes look as though the presenter and the interviewee are just having a chat about a topic. But don’t’ be fooled. This is just a surface appearance of casualness. In reality, a TV interview is as demanding as a job interview or a major presentation to a conference.
So, you need to make an effort. This doesn’t just mean putting in work on your content and the messages you want to get across. It means looking and sounding the best you can.
Your posture matters
One of the first things that people will notice about you is your posture. Just as in a job interview, you have to sit up straight and looked confident and pleased to be there (even if you don’t feel this!).
To help yourself to sit up straight it’s best to sit back in the chair with your back against the back of the chair. You also have to watch out that you don’t put your head on one side because this makes you look more submissive and less authoritative.
Listening mode doesn’t work
In my experience, quite a lot of people find when they do their first TV interviews, either for real or on media training courses, that they have spent their lives in listening mode - leaning their head to one side.
In normal conversation, this is not noticed, but on the TV screen it gets exaggerated and the leaning looks far more than it actually is. It can even sometimes look rather odd and defensive. Not what you want people to think about when you’re talking to them.
Your appearance must be positive
Make sure your whole demeanor is very positive because, if you look worried, TV viewers will not listen to you, and all that brilliant content you want to put across will be wasted.
So - to look your best on TV – here’s the summary:
Sit back in your seat
Keep your shoulders down
Don’t slouch, don’t swivel and don’t lean to one side on one arm of a chair
Don’t put your head on one side
Don’t look worried
Look confident and pleased to be there
To find out more watch Roz's Tips video below or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
25 July 2018
By Roz Morris, Managing Director, TV News London Ltd
We’ve seen a lot of waving recently. The royal wedding in Windsor means thousands of people have been waving at the royal couple, and even the tiny tots like that budding star, three-year-old Princess Charlotte, have been waving at the crowds. Prince Harry and Meghan with a TV audience of nearly two billion, have done more waving in one day than the rest of us probably do in a lifetime.
All of which is great for royal weddings. But if you get the chance to be on TV it’s really important that you give up waving your hands around Why? Because giving a TV interview is different from delivering a talk or a presentation where you can wave your hands around for emphasis and so help to keep people’s attention on you.
You already have the attention of the audience
The difference is that when you’re on TV, you’ve already got the audience’s attention. You’re there on screen in a tight shot and they are looking at you. If you start to wave your hands around near your face this will distract the audience from what you are saying. They will start to look for your hands coming into shot. They won’t be following your very important points that you are trying to get across to them.
And that’s going to make it difficult for you to make your messages memorable, whether in a TV interview or in a video.
What should you do with your hands during a TV interview?
Now I’m a great hand waver when I’m talking, but not on TV. It really isn’t a good idea. The audience will be getting confusing hand signals instead of concentrating on listening to what you’re saying. So what should you do to keep your hands out of shot?
Don't clench your hands because that will make your shoulders tense, and then you will look worried and tense and you don't want to do that either. Plus don’t cling on to the chair you’re sitting on because that will raise your tension level and your shoulders and the audience will read your body language as a bit desperate.
You have to work out what works best for you in terms of where you put your hands. My advice is to put your hands in your lap just with one hand on top of the other, and then keep both hands still and resist any temptation to raise them and indulge in any handwaving. For some people this is hard and needs practice. But it’s the only way and if you have to work at it, then recognise this and get practising being able to talk without using your hands.
Some celebs do wave their hands around
Yes I know there are some celebs who do a lot of handwaving. But just remember you’re not a celebrity. The big difference between them and you is that you are a humble spokesperson with a tight shot. They have a wider shot and they can inject more personality into what they say on screen. So if you want to learn how to use hand waving effectively come back to me when you’ve got your own show.
In the meantime ….
Make sure that whenever you do an interview on TV or for a video, you always keep your hands out of shot. Make people focus on your face and your content. Put animation and positivity into your face. That’s how you hold the audience’s attention. With handwaving you lose it.
Watch Roz's Top Tips Video Below:
24 May 2018
You’re never too big to be reminded of the basics. That must be the conclusion of astonished TV news viewers when they saw the boss of Sainsburys Mike Coupe happily singing ‘ We’re in the money. The sky is sunny, let's lend it, spend it, send it rolling along," while waiting to be interviewed about the proposed merger of Sainsburys and Asda.
"This was an unguarded moment trying to compose myself before a TV interview," he said. "It was an unfortunate choice of song, from the musical 42nd Street which I saw last year and I apologise if I have offended anyone."
But this apology rather misses the point. What his ‘unguarded moment’ did was to make him look a bit stupid and possibly also greedy and generally to undermine and trivialise discussion of a very serious day for Sainsburys and Asda and their more than 330,000 employees.
It broke the spell of authority which TV interviews are supposed to provide, despite the fact that shareholders will be happy that shares have shot up.
And of course this little TV moment will never really go away. Interviewers will even now be preparing to ask Mr Coupe a few months from now: ‘So are you still in the money Mr Coupe? Are things still sunny? Was this merger really such a good idea?’ etc. etc.. I bet he can’t wait!
01 May 2018
By Roz Morris, Managing Director TV News London Ltd
Over the last 40 years the Enfield Poltergeist has become world famous. Numerous Hollywood films – most recently The Conjuring 2 - have been (very loosely) based on strange events taking place in a council house in Enfield in the late 1970’s. The story has never gone away and gained a new lease of life with the arrival of the internet and growing worldwide interest in the paranormal.
Stories about the Enfield Poltergeist started in 1977 and 1978 with BBC broadcasts on radio and television, as well as numerous newspaper reports including the Daily Mirror, The Observer, News of the World, the Daily Mail, and in America the National Enquirer. The book ‘This House is Haunted: An investigation of the Enfield Poltergeist’ by Guy Playfair was published in 1980 and was reviewed in the Daily Telegraph and other national newspapers.
On Sunday 8 April 2018 BBC Radio 4’s The Reunion Programme brings together presenter Sue MacGregor and 3 Enfield Poltergeist eyewitnesses: Myself - former BBC reporter Roz Morris, now TV News London’s Managing Director, lawyer Richard Grosse, and professional photographer, Graham Morris (No relation to Roz). The programme will be repeated on Friday 13 April.
There has always been interest in what is often termed the paranormal and poltergeist activities have been reported for hundreds of years. But the arrival of the internet followed by the start of YouTube in 2005 have generated huge interest in the supernatural and enabled the provision of more information and opinion about this topic than ever before.
As well as generating continuing worldwide interest on the web, films about poltergeists are very big box office (The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, Poltergeist 2, Poltergeist 3, The Entity etc..) The TV drama series ‘Medium’ starring Patricia Arquette as Allison Dubois a woman who receives messages and premonitions from the dead/the spirit world, has been extremely popular worldwide. TV programmes about ghost hunters have devoted followings. The Conjuring 2 has so far made worldwide profits of more than $300 million.
In May 2015 Sky Living ran a 3-part TV drama series ‘The Enfield Haunting’ starring Timothy Spall, Mathew Macfadyen and Juliet Stevenson, (again loosely) based on Guy Playfair’s book.
The three episodes were the highest-rated programmes on Sky Living with the first episode gaining 1,871,000 viewers. The previous highest audience for Sky Living was 1,197,000 viewers for an episode of the US crime drama series ‘The Blacklist’ and all 3 episodes of The Enfield Haunting beat this.
So what happened to spark all this interest? It all started on 31 August 1977 and shortly afterwards on 10 September I visited the house to interview the family and psychic investigator Maurice Grosse. I was then a young BBC radio reporter working for The World This Weekend Programme.
It was a Saturday and it was a very slow news day. We didn’t have enough stories to fill the programme the next day and the Daily Mirror had run a front-page story about this reported poltergeist in Enfield. It was headlined ‘The House of Strange Happenings’ and it reported that Daily Mirror reporters and photographers had visited a house in Green Street, Brimsdown, a suburb of Enfield, and had seen toys, especially Lego bricks thrown about apparently by invisible hands.
In addition the Hodgson family, who lived in the house reported that furniture had been pushed about and drawers had opened and shut without anyone nearby. Eyewitnesses including neighbours had also seen strange events and a local woman police officer had signed a statement that she saw a chair move across the floor in the house with no-one pushing it.
I was told all that Saturday – that if nothing else came up I would just have to go to Enfield and investigate this ‘ghost story’. Well nothing else did come up and so I went off to Enfield in the early evening and stayed there for several hours.
What I found was very strange. There was definitely something very odd going on. The 3 bedroom semi-detached council house was occupied by divorced mother Mrs Peggy Hodgson and two sons and two daughters, and they were scared because of unusual unexplained events such as toys and household objects moving about without anyone near them, which they found very disturbing.
While I was at the house I interviewed Mrs Hodgson and spoke to her daughters Janet,11, and Margaret 12, and I also spoke to Maurice Grosse an investigator from the Psychical Research Society who was there to try to help the family. They all struck me as straightforward people caught up in a difficult situation which nobody could find a reason for in everyday terms.
So why did this come to be known as the Enfield Poltergeist? Poltergeist means noisy spirit in German and there have been reports of this type of noisy and energetic ‘ghostly’ behaviour for hundreds of years. All the incidents reported at Enfield fitted in with previous reports of what is known as ‘poltergeist activity’.
My report ran for 10 minutes in The World This Weekend on Sunday 11th September and I was so intrigued by the strangeness of what was happening to the Hodgson family that I went on to produce a 40-minute radio documentary – first broadcast in December 1978 on BBC Radio 4. It was repeated in 1979 on Radio 4 and also repeated twice on BBC World Service Radio.
The programme contains recordings of poltergeist activity, unexplained knocking sounds on walls and also the strange deep voices seeming to come from Janet and her sister Margaret and which claimed at times to be the voices of ghosts. I also interviewed scientists who measured the activity and eyewitnesses who said they saw Janet levitating, apparently floating without support.
The Enfield Poltergeist is still controversial. Critics claim that the whole thing was faked by the Hodgson family. Some have claimed it was all down to the family wanting to move to a better council house. However, this is not factually true as Mrs Hodgson did not want to move and in fact lived in the house in Green Street for nearly 40 years years and died in the house in 2003. The family did not make money out of the poltergeist, which, even in the much less frantic media times of 40 years ago, they could have done.
I really do not know what caused the Enfield Poltergeist. I do know that, apart from total sceptics who deny anything extraordinary happened at all, there are two types of theories. There is an internal cause theory – everything is caused by a young person around the age of puberty generating a form of psychic energy that can move objects around without touching them. There is also an external cause theory – ghosts centre around a troubled young person and the ghosts cause objects to move, strange voices and levitation of objects and people.
I simply don’t know what was happening at Enfield just over forty years ago. But what I do know is that this is the strangest and most disturbing story I have ever reported on.
Link to listen to the BBC Reunion programme
05 April 2018
By Joanna Gaudoin
How much thought do you give the words you use? If you’re like most people, probably only more thought when you are in a more challenging situation or when the stakes are high.
I recently read Susan Scott’s ‘Fierce Conversations’. It’s a striking book where she shares some principles of having powerful conversations that in her words enrich relationships. As she also says, “The conversation is the relationship”. More on the principles in a minute.
What I found interesting was a highly memorable nugget that was almost a side mention near the end of her book. This nugget stuck in my mind as I think it’s extremely powerful. It’s about the importance of every word a leader says in the workplace. Yes you read that right every word. There are 2 reasons for this:
- The importance ascribed to a leader, that is assuming people respect the person to at least some degree, they will listen to what that person has to say.
- The time, people remember things for a long time if they impact them. On the positive side, it means years later people could be remembering and repeating something positive that was said but it also means the reverse happens. Negative, flippant and hurtful comments, especially if personal, could have a negative impact for years to come.
This comment is made in relation to leaders at work but Susan’s entire book encompasses non work conversations too, so food for thought there for all of us.
To come back to her principles of Fierce Conversations which I think of as powerful, impactful and transformative, they are:
- Master the courage to interrogate reality.
- Come out from behind yourself and make the conversation real.
- Be here, be prepared to be nowhere else.
- Tackle your toughest challenge today.
- Obey your instincts.
- Take responsibility for your emotional wake.
- Let silence do the heavy lifting.
I will explore these in more depth in subsequent articles but perhaps for now start thinking what they might mean and how good you are at following them. Relationship building whether at work or at home doesn’t happen in a day, the words you use have a significant impact on how that relationship turns out. Who do you need to be thinking about your words more carefully with?
If you are having challenges with work relationships, get in touch. Inside Out Image has helped many clients understand how their behaviour impacts others and how other people are impacting them, so they can make powerful changes for improved individual career progression and organisational performance.
Are you feeling stuck in your career? Want to speed up your progression but not sure how? Sign up for Inside Out Image's ‘Top Tips To Boost Your Career Success’ http://bit.ly/2Go34nA
Inside Out Image run by Joanna Gaudoin helps professional individuals achieve greater career success and their organisations improve business performance, by working with them on their personal impact and relationship building skills.
Prior to establishing Inside Out Image, Joanna Gaudoin spent 10 years in marketing and consultancy. She now works with clients one-to-one, as well as speaking and running workshops across all areas of personal impact and relationship building; including appearance, body language and voice, as well as the skills and confidence for different business scenarios such as meetings, networking and presentations.
Most of Joanna’s work is in the professional and financial services sectors. Additionally, she helps clients navigate ‘office politics’, facilitated by a diagnostic profiling tool to help clients understand how they currently interact and how this could be improved, to achieve their objectives.
04 April 2018
By Roz Morris, Managing Director, TV News London Ltd
Always beware and be aware of the microphone and camera. It’s advice we always give in our media training sessions. Whether you’re in a radio or TV studio, or near a camera filming at an event, you never know who’s listening or who will get to hear you if you’re recorded. And nowadays this applies not just to TV and video cameras but, as we are all broadcasters now via the internet, to anyone recording with a smartphone or tablet.
One of my favourite early YouTube posts was headlined ‘Chelsea Clinton Explains Why She Doesn’t Give Media Interviews’. All recorded on an iPad as she spoke to some students at an American university and then posted online. Ironic or what?
The perils of cameras, not just iPads, listening in to public figures are clearly illustrated by the current world wide broadcasting of the unguarded and undiplomatic comments by both the UK Prime Minister and Her Majesty the Queen while the Queen’s own cameraman was recording them for broadcast.
And it’s not just cameras that can be a threat to a smooth and diplomatic image. Prime Minister Cameron was also caught out last year when rehearsing a speech in Leeds while wearing a live microphone but not on camera. He was heard joking that Yorkshire people "hate each other". The PM said: "We just thought people in Yorkshire hated everyone else, we didn't realise they hated each other so much." Later, Mr Cameron told the BBC's Test Match Special it was "a total joke".
Which is also what President Reagan said when he did what became an infamous sound test before one of his weekly presidential radio talks in 1984. Asked to say something for voice level, Mr Reagan solemnly intoned: ‘My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you that I have signed legislation to outlaw Russia for ever. We begin bombing in five minutes.’ This was not broadcast live, but it was picked up by radio technicians on tape machines running in studios around the country as they prepared to take a feed of the talk and it was then reported in the media.
At that time the Russians were not amused, protested a lot and put some of their troops on alert. Today the Chinese are pretending the whole thing just didn’t happen. Although there have been a few briefings on the lines of ‘Does Britain still think it’s got an empire? etc., they are blocking reports of the Queen’s remarks about their officials being ‘very rude’ at the time of the visit to Britain last October of President Xi Jinping.
The Nigerians and Afghans are not being so kind to Mr Cameron and his remarks about them being the two most corrupt countries in the world – just before they attended his anti-corruption summit. Honestly if you put this stuff into a political novel, people would say it was just too over the top embarrassing to ever happen!
Other examples of unintentionally broadcast blunders include Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and John Major. During the 2010 general election campaign Labour Prime Minister Brown was caught out by when he got back to his car and still wearing a live microphone, he called Rochdale Labour supporter Mrs Gillian Duffy ‘that bigoted woman’ because she had talked about immigration being a problem. He was much criticised and he had to apologise in person.
Conservative PM John Major was famously caught out in 1993 when, having finished a TV interview with ITN, he spoke frankly about his opponents within his own party as ‘bastards’ that he would like to ‘crucify’. This was not recorded on camera but was caught on microphones that were still sending sound via a feed to TV newsrooms. They of course all dutifully reported the remarks and a ‘huge row’ followed.
There is real value in never being too frank when cameras are nearby. It’s not that everything is a conspiracy. Microphones can be left on unintentionally and they can catch you out as well as prime ministers.
If you think you are the exception and you’ll never be caught out by reality TV or a fly on the wall documentary, you’re wrong. As one veteran producer told me many years ago : ”Documentary makers rely on the fact that after twenty minutes everyone forgets the cameras are there.”
At the end of a radio or TV interview in a studio, if you really want to say what you really think, wait until you’re out of the studio. Better still wait until you’re out of the building. Journalists have ears as well as microphones.
Your critics may not be as (relatively) kind as the Chinese are being to the Queen. Like businessman Gerald Ratner who famously ruined his own high street jewellery business by telling a business conference that his products were ‘total crap’ and of less value than Marks and Spencer prawn sandwiches, you may live to really regret saying what you really think.
The best advice to avoid embarrassment and unnecessary reputational damage is: if you don’t want something broadcast: Be aware. Just don’t say it.
13 May 2016
By Roz Morris, Managing Director, TV News London Ltd
When Australian TV newsreader Karl Stefanovic decided to make a point by wearing the same suit for a year whenever he was reading the news, he can’t have expected to be famous globally for this.
But his statement that he had worn the same Burberry blue suit on screen for twelve months on the Nine Network Today Programme and this had never been noticed by the audience, while what his female colleagues wore was endlessly commented upon, seems to have struck a real nerve.
The story went viral and the now famous ‘sexism suit’ ended up on eBay being auctioned for charity and raising ten thousand Australian dollars for the White Ribbon campaign to end violence against women. The whole story was a cue for lots of talk about TV sexism and women being judged more than men for what they wear etc..
Soon after this, scientists managed to land a space probe on a comet for the first time ever – a historic achievement by the Rosetta Project of the European Space Agency.
Rosetta Project Scientist, Matt Taylor, went on TV worldwide to talk about this triumph. Unfortunately he was wearing a casual short sleeved shirt and not just any casual short sleeved shirt. It was a large shirt with naked women as part of the large pattern. Cue outraged protests on Twitter and condemnation all round for his bad taste and poor judgement.
Poor Matt was forced to appear at a subsequent press conference without his soon entitled ‘sexist shirt’. He is clearly not a suit man, but he did make an effort to avoid patterns this time. He wore a plain dark hoodie. And, flanked by colleagues, before saying anything else about the truly historic Rosetta Space Project, he had to say how really sorry he was about his shirt.
So what can we learn from these two very different TV clothes stories?
Well the point about appearing on TV as a newsreader, or as a spokesperson for your organisation, is that what you wear should not be more dominant or prominent than what you say. People should remember what you say not what you wear.
So the Australian newsreader was absolutely right to wear an unremarkable suit and the space scientist was wrong to wear a shirt that distracted viewers from what he was saying. Whether he should really have been condemned so much, or just been laughed at a as a (very clever) sartorial idiot, who just doesn’t think much about what he wears, is another issue. I mean it’s probably his best shirt and he thought he was dressing up and looking smart even though he was a bit busy with historic space stuff. However -didn’t he have PR people who could have pointed out that the shirt was wrong for TV interviews?
And yes ladies this issue about wearing things that don’t dominate your interview, or even insert themselves at all into the viewers brain, applies to women as well. In fact the same rules apply to women and men on TV whether as newsreaders or interviewees i.e. Don’t let your clothes dominate your image and make sure you give yourself the best chance of getting the audience to listen to you.
The point is that whether you are a newsreader or a spokesperson for your organisation, you want people to remember what you are saying. And lots of things e.g. your clothes, hairstyle, jewellery, can get in the way and distract the audience’ s attention. So whether you are male or female, you need to take a cool hard look at what you are wearing and whether it will be too fussy for TV.
I do think women newsreaders and spokespeople should not wear memorable clothes. They should look smart, stylish and professional – without even a hint of cleavage or fussiness. Plain and simple suits or smart dresses will make them look professional and authoritative and not like a fashion victim trying too hard to be noticed for clothing, not news content.
It’s probably true that people who comment on Twitter about what female newsreaders are wearing really do need to get out more, but it is also true that some female newsreaders do wear clothes or jewellery which the audience has to spend time processing before concentrating on what they are saying. There are cultural expectations of more variety in clothing for women than men and Karl Stefanovic has very neatly illustrated this. However there is a balance between looking professional and smart and looking like a bimbo out on the town.
As a media trainer I always advise spokespeople that you don’t want the audience to remember what you wear. This is important because, if they do remember your clothes, they were not listening to you. They were thinking about your terrible tie, shirt, blouse, brooch, big necklace, distracting neckline, unusual collar or cuffs, and not about what you are saying. What you want them to remember is what you say and that you look professional and credible saying it. When you get it right, all the audience remembers is that you looked smart and professional - and that’s it. So – very useful and revealing stuff from both Karl and Matt. I wonder if that shirt will be sold for charity – not.
If you want to know how to look and sound professional in broadcast interviews contact TV News London
28 November 2014
By Roz Morris, Managing Director, TV News London Ltd.
We can all have a bad day at the office, but when the Labour Leader, Ed Miliband, had a really bad day in the TV and radio studios by not knowing much about food shopping bills or anything at all about the Labour Group Leader on Swindon Council – he broke a number of important rules of politics and of media interviews.
One of the worst things that can happen to you in a media interview is to be asked a perfectly fair question and show that you do not know the answer. The public will not be impressed when, as Ed did on both ITV’s Good Morning Britain and later on BBC Radio Wiltshire, he was asked obvious questions and he floundered.
On Good Morning Britain his eyes goggled as Susannah Reid and Charlotte Hawkins, pressed him on how much his own family spends on supermarket shopping. He clearly did not have a clue and, although he followed basic media training guidelines on changing the subject when you are unsure of your ground, he could not get away entirely.
He settled on a figure of £70 to £80 a week for a family of four’s supermarket shopping bill. His interviewers informed him the average figure is £100 and Susannah Reid suggested his family (being well paid) would be spending ‘significantly’ more than that.
She then added (not unfairly at all in the circumstances) : “ People would say one of the problems with politicians is that they are actually talking about something, but are out of touch with reality.”
This interview was definitely damaging to the Labour Party Leader’s authority in a major interview as someone who wants voters to believe he knows and cares about what his Labour Party calls ‘the cost-of-living crisis faced by millions of families..’
How could he have avoided this damage? Well it is really important to prepare your answers before you set foot in a radio or TV studio. If you are going to bang on about the cost of living, it really isn’t unreasonable for interviewers to ask you detailed questions about the topic. So it is very important however busy you are, either as a politician or as a business spokesperson, to set aside time to look at your topic and think of obvious questions and how you will deal with them.
How much does your family spend on your weekly supermarket shopping bill ? This is an obvious question when talking about the cost of living. Mr Miliband is not on his own against the media. He has a team of people who should be doing this kind of preparation with him. ‘Always do your homework’ is the advice I always give as a media trainer. Perhaps Mr Miliband and his media advisors should be given detention and told to write this out 100 times so they get the point
Mr Miliband should have prepared better for his ITV breakfast TV interview. However, having got stuck in a hole, he could have tried a more humourous approach. He wants to be Prime Minister. So let’s think about what would his predecessor Tony Blair might have done? If he was stuck, he would probably say something like “Well Cherie will shoot me here, but I’m not entirely sure. I know we are comfortably off and we are lucky not to have the worries that people on low incomes do. The important message here is that there is a cost of living crisis for many millions of people and what we want to do is ......” etc.. etc.
Keeping going convincingly is half the battle here. Ed Miliband didn’t manage to do this and he needs to learn to do that if he wants the public to give him the keys to Ten Downing Street.
Later, on the same day, when he was interviewed on BBC Radio Wiltshire, he managed to show that he did not know the name of the Leader of the Labour Group on Swindon Council and also he did not know whether Labour ran the council or not.
As an example of how not to do a local radio interview this one takes some beating. And I think it is worth examining in detail. After some preliminary questions about weekly shopping, the Radio Wiltshire presenter, Ben Prater, asked Ed Miliband: What do you make of Jim Grant? Ed Miliband paused and then said; “I beg your pardon?” .
The interviewer then asked him; “You do know who Jim Grant is Mr Miliband?
EM: You will enlighten me I’m sure.
BP: Swindon Labour leader.
EM : Yeah I think he is doing a good job.
BP: Will he feel like you support him enough if you don’t even know his name?
EM: Well he is doing a good job as leader of the council Jim is and I think that is the case.
BP: I mean it’s Swindon Labour Leader. Do you think by your comments now people might be a bit perplexed by why you wouldn’t know who Jim Grant is?
EM: No. I know that Jim is doing a good job for Swindon and I think he is doing a good job as Leader of the Council.
BP: But he is not leader of the council is he Mr Miliband? It’s a Conservative-led council.
EM: I think he is doing a good job for Labour on the Council. I think he is doing a good job for Labour on the Council.
BP: So let’s be clear. Who runs Swindon Council?
EM: It’s a Conservative –controlled Council.
Obviously this embarrassing exchange breaks the basic rules of taking the trouble to actually know what you are talking about and who your audience is when you give a radio interview. It also breaks the political rule as spelled out by the legendary Tip O’Neill, the 55th Speaker of the US House of Representatives. “All politics is local” he famously said. And he used this advice very effectively himself when he defeated political opponents by using his local knowledge of their own states against them.
Ed Miliband often has to give a series of TV and radio interviews in one day. Yes it is demanding . But he needs to be sharp on the details of his arguments and the details of the places where he is interviewed. So, if he wants to avoid further disasters, definitely more homework is needed before his next round of campaigning interviews.
23 May 2014
By Roz Morris, Managing Director, TV News London Ltd
“Ho Ho Ho”. Santa was in a very good mood as Christmas approached yet again and he wandered round his busy toy workshop. That was until he saw what the Junior Elves were doing. “Why are you taking down all those Elfin Safety posters from the wall behind my workbench? “ he demanded crossly of some small and rather timid elves who jumped a few feet in the air when he boomed at them.
“it’s orders” one Junior Elf finally stuttered.” “Orders? “ said Santa sternly, “Whose orders? “ The elves looked up at him with big eyes and trepidation. “We’ve got orders from Chief Elf”, one of them managed to say as he rolled up the posters.
“But he’s the person who told me I had to have all those pesky posters up in the first place” boomed Santa getting increasingly irritated. His jolly mood had completely gone. “What on the North Pole is the Chief Elf up to now?”
“It’s for Skype” one of the Junior Elves volunteered timidly.
“Skype?” boomed Santa. “Who’s that - a new reindeer? And why does Skype mean taking down posters?”
“No. It’s not a reindeer. Skype is a free service on the internet and it means you can talk to the world on your computer“, said Chief Elf smoothly. He had suddenly appeared after gliding up unnoticed behind Santa and, not for the first time, startling him with an unexpected materialisation into a conversation.
“I am definitely going to make sure he has to wear boots that make a noise when he walks” Santa thought to himself grimly. “Those soft shoe boots with curly toes and all this gliding around silently will be the death of me!” Aloud he asked: “But why take down the posters?”
“Oh that’s so you can have a nice clear background with a sign just saying ‘Santa’s HQ’ and there’s nothing fussy behind you like posters that people will read and puzzle over instead of listening to what you’re saying in your Skype chat, “ said Chief Elf in a smugly helpful tone.
“Now come over and sit down at your workbench. There’s the laptop which you look at throughout your interview. And make sure you smile and look jolly all the time. No-one likes a serious Santa “
“Well they seem to like a Text Santa and a Secret Santa. They keep borrowing my name for all kinds of schemes, even adverts where I’m supposed to be delivering sofas or soft drinks, or whatever, so I know I’m popular ” said Santa.
“Yes, but this is the first time you’ve ever spoken to the world, so make sure you read these interview notes. I gave them to you yesterday. Have you read them yet? “ inquired Chief Elf. “Er, no” admitted Santa. “I’ve been busy sorting out production lines for traditional wooden toys, not twiddling around with computers.”
Suddenly Santa saw that Chief Elf had done something to the keyboard and things were happening on the computer screen. There were a lot of bongs and bings and then he saw himself in a little picture in the corner of the screen with a sign behind him and a small decorated Christmas tree beside him on his workbench. (“Where had that come from?”) “All part of your set dressing “ Chief Elf informed him mysteriously . “And remember - keep smiling- and don’t look down or you’ll look odd.”
The main part of the screen now had two people beaming at him and sitting on a sofa in a TV studio. They had American accents and they looked very glossy and confident. Santa wished he had combed his hair. And his beard.
He straightened his hat and brushed the cake crumbs off his beard and the front of his red Santa suit. He also noticed from his picture on screen that his suit did look a bit tight. Mrs Claus had warned him to either go on a diet or get a larger suit. Too late to do either of those things now.
He glanced at his notes. And then the questions started. How do you get round the world in a night? Is it only good children who get big presents? How many toys do you deliver each Christmas? Who is your favourite reindeer? And so on and on and on. Santa found himself remembering that Chief Elf had suggested a practice run for this kind of thing. Media training he had called it.
Santa finished the interview at last. The interviewers beamed and thanked him profusely for what they called ‘a historic world first interview’. He heard the bings and bongs again and the pictures disappeared from the screen. “Well done” said Chief Elf kindly as the Junior Elves all clapped. “You did your best” .
“Yes but I do see what you mean about the media training.“ said Santa. “I think you’d better call up those people you recommended.“
“TV News London? “ said Chief Elf. “ I’ll call them right now. You can have a practice session on Skype before your next interview with the BBC tomorrow.“
“Just one more thing “ inquired Santa anxiously. “If the broadcasters have my Skype address, won’t people now know where we are and be trying to come and visit us here?“
“No No. No need to worry about that “ said Chief Elf smugly. “ Our location is still a secret.”
How’s that?” said Santa. “Magic” said Chief Elf.
12 December 2013