Archive for the ‘Media Training’ Category

Secrets to Getting Booked on TV Talk Shows – Don’t Make These Mistakes

June 21, 2017

The following is an excerpt from my book, The Insider’s Guide To Media Training.

There are many reasons why people fail to get booked on top talk shows, lifestyle programs, and news broadcasts. The secrets that I’m about to share with you are the prescription for avoiding that failure. Understanding these three things when pitching media will lift your personal brand from obscurity to success and gain recognition and credibility with the clients and customers you wish to serve.

The Three Biggest Mistakes that Derail Your Media Results.

Let’s start with the problem. The reason you’re not getting that crucial media attention is that, like most people (even the pros who should know better), you’re making not just one, but two or even three big mistakes. And it only takes one to kill your chances of media success:

#1. You Don’t Think Like a Producer. Too many times, you’re looking at your pitch from your perspective, which is “I want a TV interview,” vs. the producer’s perspective, which is “Why would I want to interview you?” The producer is not there to help you achieve your goal, UNLESS you can make it a shared goal. The producer needs a story, and if you pitch one that is newsworthy, you have found that shared goal. When you adopt the producer mindset – when you can offer them something that will meet their own needs – then you will be able to create a pitch with the greatest chance of being broadcast.

#2. You Don’t Have an Angle (or Media Hook) for Your Story. Every story needs an angle or frankly, you don’t have a newsworthy story. You can’t simply pitch the opening of a new business and expect to get coverage just because it’s “new.” There has to be some kind of story angle, some bit of added information to catch the interest or make the opening special (i.e. “Before this veterinary clinic opened, the closest one was 100 miles away, so this is a needed service for the community.”)

#3. Your Story is Too Commercial. If you’re pitching a story that’s all about “you” or all about “your product,” then it’s just not going to fly with a producer. It has to be more universal than just a promotional piece. Even though the goal is to get media exposure for you or your product, unless your product is groundbreaking (like you’ve invented teleportation so you can “Beam me up, Scotty”), then you need to find a way to weave your product, service or brand into the story in a problem/solution story angle formula so that it’s almost incidental. For example, if you’re away from home, but don’t need to answer the door, the Ring Video Doorbell lets you answer the door from anywhere with your smartphone. It’s a great product that solves a problem.

So now that I’ve identified the three biggest mistakes, here are three easy fixes/rules for increasing your results in getting booked on TV:

  • Think like a producer.
  • Your story must have an irresistible angle or media hook (and always deliver the story angle you pitch).
  • Being overly commercial with your pitch will kill the story.

So what constitutes a good story to a producer or reporter? The number one secret to booking a TV interview is simply to pitch them an irresistible story angle. Otherwise, you are just wasting your time (and theirs).

I hope you’ve learned some valuable information from this excerpt from my book, The Insider’s Guide to Media Training, available on Amazon. In the book, I share lots of behind-the-scenes insider secrets on how to get booked on television shows that even P.R. pros don’t know. Also, if you provide media training services to your clients, this is a great guide to tips on how to ace on-camera interviews.

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

Marianne Schwab is the author of The Insider’s Guide to Media Training and the go-to broadcast media expert to show you how to get booked on TV and ace your on-camera interview. Her producer credits include Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Runaway with the Rich & Famous, E! Entertainment Television ON E! Specials, and many more. She has worked in broadcast for over 25 years and is currently the Executive Producer for CMP Media Cafe — a company specializing in broadcast public relations where she provides customized media training services for clients.

Copyright © 2017 by Marianne Schwab. Excerpt reprinted with Permission. All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

Looking Good on TV – Part Three (Book Excerpt)

June 2, 2017

TV viewers will size you up quickly and since television is a visual medium, you (or your client) need to make sure you know the basics and the nuances on how to look good on TV — and it’s not just about delivering your message for the media.

In my book, The Insider’s Guide to Media Training, I cover a lot of topics that are all part of the process to polish on-camera interviews.  Looking Good on TV – Part One of my book excerpt covered the basics of wardrobe guidelines for men and women. Looking Good on TVPart Two delved into the details of what colors work best on television and what colors you need to avoid. Now, Looking Good on TVPart Three is all about patterns and prints that work best and the ones to avoid turning your wardrobe into a fashion disaster on camera along with a few final wardrobe tips that will make all the difference in fine tuning your on-camera appearance.

Prints and Patterns that Work Best On Camera. Without the right wardrobe planning, certain prints and patterns can be very difficult to pull off, for a variety of reasons. So always exercise caution when you think you absolutely have to wear a patterned or print dress, blouse, or slacks.

Tiny print patterns (like flowers) are generally safe and flattering, but large prints can add pounds you don’t have because they create optical illusions. Horizontal patterns are infamous for making a person look wide. Generally, stripes are not a good look on camera and shouldn’t be worn.

Prints and Patterns to Avoid On Camera. Patterns that look great in person don’t always translate well on camera. These patterns include pinstripes, chevron, plaid, fine checks, stripes, herringbone, houndstooth and similar patterns that can cause a moiré effect on camera. Small, repetitive patterns, should be avoided.

The moiré effect is a visual perception that occurs when viewing a set of tiny stripes, dots, or checks that are superimposed on another set of lines or dots, and which seem to actually move back and forth or flicker. It is very distracting and not camera-friendly, so stay away from these patterns.

No Logos or Written Words on Clothing. Wearing a logo implies product or brand endorsement so do not wear any clothing with visible commercial logos, unless it is for your own company.

Accessories and Jewelry. If you know about fashion then you know that accessories and jewelry can really bring your look to life, but less is more when it comes to accessorizing what you wear on camera.

When it comes to jewelry, wearing anything too distracting takes the focus off you and off your message. Avoid wearing shiny jewelry or watches since they can catch the light and cause a glare. Also, women should not wear dangly earrings or more than one ring per hand.

Finally, avoid jingly jewelry (especially bracelets) or accessories since the microphones on set are very sensitive and will appear to magnify that noise, which may make it difficult to understand what you are saying. Remove jewelry that moves, makes noise, or could hit your microphone.

Shoes and Socks. Unless you are certain, never assume that your shoes, socks, or stockings won’t be visible in the shot during your interview. Shoes don’t matter that much when they’re not in the shot, but it’s important to wear ones that are appropriate and which cover your feet. Men should wear over-the-calf socks so that if you cross your legs no skin is visible (as the camera may be capturing you from a low angle).

A good way to ensure that you’re on point regarding your on-camera wardrobe is to study the fashion choices worn by talk show hosts and their guests and then mimic the style that suits you best. Do not go trendy for its own sake, unless the style genuinely flatters you.

You may feel like you really aren’t skilled at fashion styling and if that’s the case you should consider investing in a consultation with an image consultant who specializes in on-camera looks. They can help you put a few winning wardrobe pieces together as your go-to outfits for interviews.

If you follow these guidelines they will not only make you look good (and professional) on television, but your well-planned preparation will contribute to a smooth running production (and earn you positive notice from producers who may one day be interested in re-booking you).

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

Marianne Schwab is the author of The Insider’s Guide to Media Training and the go-to broadcast media expert to show you how to get booked on TV and ace your on-camera interview. Her producer credits include Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Runaway with the Rich & Famous, E! Entertainment Television ON E! Specials, and many more. She has worked in broadcast for over 25 years and is currently the Executive Producer for CMP Media Cafe — a company specializing in broadcast public relations where she provides customized media training services for clients.

Copyright © 2017 by Marianne Schwab. Excerpt reprinted with Permission. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Looking Good on TV – Part Two (Book Excerpt)

June 1, 2017

Viewers will size you up quickly and since TV is a visual medium, you (or your client) need to make sure to look good on TV — and it’s not just about the message. In my book, The Insider’s Guide to Media Training, I cover a lot of topics that are all part of the process to polish on-camera interviews.  Looking Good on TV – Part One of my book excerpt covered the basics of wardrobe guidelines for men and women. Now,  Looking Good on TVPart Two delves into the colors that work best on television and the ones to avoid.

Solid Colors – What Works Best and What to Avoid

Solid colors work best for television, but there are the good, the bad, and the ugly of color choices and that’s why you need to understand some basics about how colors look before the camera, whose lens captures their values and hues very differently than the naked eye does. One advantage to wearing solid colors is that your wardrobe won’t easily become dated since rich, saturated colors never go out of style.

You should choose colors that not only flatter your skin tone and hair color, but also work well on camera. In 1987, color consultant Carole Jackson, wrote Color Me Beautiful, a book that has become the gold standard for determining which colors work best for you. The book is still available through Amazon.   When it comes to color, you should also consider the set design of the show you’ll be appearing on since you don’t want to disappear into the background, but nor do you want to stand out from it in a way that is distracting.

Solid Colors that Work Best On Camera

Jewel tones are all the rage right now but make sure you choose a color that looks great on you, not just the hanger. The colors near your face will either drain you of life or highlight your best features, like your eyes, on camera. There’s a palette of colors that look best on each of us and look especially great on video. Go to MediaTrainingGuide.com and download my quick wardrobe tips that show you a palette of colors that the camera loves.

The safest color on TV is blue but there are many shades of blue and if you’re on a blue screen, then you should avoid this color in any shade.

Pastel shirts or muted colors work well on camera, but do require some caution since they may wash out if they are too soft and can appear more white than their actual color. One useful tip is that pastel colors layered with darker solids like suit jackets will not appear washed out. In fact, pastel colored shirts or blouses are preferred over white since there is no extreme contrast between the dark solid, but instead provide a flattering layer.

Pastels and jewel tones look good, but do avoid ‘glowing’ colors (i.e. neon, certain hues of blues, purples, and reds). Other good colors include beige, gray, green, brown and blue.

If you want to add visual interest with color, try layering two jewel tones in the same color family or two colors that complement each other. Another option is to layer a solid on top of a pattern to mute its effect on camera.

Solid Colors to Avoid On Camera

Certain solids should be avoided or worn with caution because they can be a little tricky. These are colors which the camera is particularly prone to capturing in a wonky way, or which create issues with lighting. Four colors to avoid are all white, black, red, and purple.

  • White: Solid white should be avoided whether it’s a suit, dress, jacket, blouse, shirt or pants. Why? It’s all about lighting. White glows and becomes the most noticeable thing on the TV screen and certain combinations with other solid colors in your attire will create a contrast of light and dark colors (i.e. black and white, dark blue and white, etc.) that make the camera lens go crazy (and the director of photography bonkers). Exceptions do exist and most often involve a chef’s uniform or doctor’s white lab jacket, but this is the general rule. Off white, cream, beige, soft yellow, light blue are colors that can all give a soft, lighter look without blowing out the lighting.
  • Black: Black isn’t a complete “no-no,” but you need to be careful when you wear it. Be aware that if you’re wearing an outfit that is solid black, that black will suck up all the light, causing your body to become invisible against many studio backdrops. So you certainly want to avoid wearing a black shirt under a black suit jacket, but you can wear a jewel or pastel tone shirt underneath as long as it’s not high contrast. Like whites, exceptions do apply and black can look good on camera, but it usually requires good lighting and makeup to add life back to your complexion. If you want to wear a dark color, navy is a better choice. Dark browns and blues are fine alone or combined with pastel colors or jewel tones. Women can also can accessorize with a colorful scarf to avoid an all black look.
  • Red, Purple & Orange: Certain shades of bright red can appear glowing orange and bleed on camera, so if you do wear red, make sure you choose a shade that is blue based rather than yellow based. Also, HDTV has largely solved the “purple” problem, but it’s still a tricky color for cameras to capture authentically. You’ll find your purple dress, blouse, or tie will look blue. Darker shades of red, purple, and orange usually work best.
  • Green: You only need to avoid wearing any shade of green (including some shades of blue) when you are working with a green screen and the control room is keying in the set background.

So that sums up what colors work best and the colors to avoid when it comes to making wardrobe decisions for on-camera interviews, but equally important are fabric patterns.

Our next post?  Tune in for Looking Good on TV – Part Three for essential info on prints and patterns that work best on TV and how to avoid on-camera fashion disasters.

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

Marianne Schwab is the author of The Insider’s Guide to Media Training and the go-to broadcast media expert to show you how to get booked on TV and ace your on-camera interview. Her producer credits include Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Runaway with the Rich & Famous, E! Entertainment Television ON E! Specials, and many more. She has worked in broadcast for over 25 years and is currently the Executive Producer for CMP Media Cafe — a company specializing in broadcast public relations where she provides customized media training services for clients.

Copyright © 2017 by Marianne Schwab. Excerpt reprinted with Permission. All Rights Reserved.

 

Looking Good on TV – Part One (Book Excerpt)

May 31, 2017

In my book, The Insider’s Guide to Media Training, I cover a lot of topics that are all part of the process to polish on-camera interviews.  Viewers will size you up quickly and since TV is a visual medium, you (or your client) need to make sure to look good on TV — and it’s not just about the message.

As you focus on your verbal delivery, mastering the art of conveying your unique knowledge with assurance and ease, you must at the same time never forget that your appearance is equally critical for success on television.  In this series of blog posts, I’m sharing a chapter from my book, so here is Looking Good on TV (Part One).

For any appearance on camera, you must take complete control over every detail of your personal appearance with appropriate wardrobe choices, professional makeup and hair, and a vocal delivery that exudes confidence. It’s all part of your on-camera package, and will even precede your message in making that first impression with a television audience ready to size you up in a matter of seconds.

People shouldn’t judge you by your appearance, but they will. You’ve heard it said that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. When television viewers first see you on camera on their favorite TV talk show or in a newscast, they make an initial judgment in the first four seconds and that judgment is finalized largely within 30 seconds (or less). Everything contributing to the way you look on camera is important and if it’s not helping you, it’s, unfortunately, hurting you. A first impression can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo so you must set a favorable tone from the first moment viewers see and hear you.

Wardrobe Guidelines for On-Camera Talent

Your wardrobe choices are a major factor in controlling how you appear and appeal to viewers. As a producer, I have a keen sense of what clothes look best on camera and what clothes are a fashion disaster. A little wardrobe planning, including perhaps some professional guidance about what works and what doesn’t work on camera, can go a long way toward helping you craft a look that projects the confidence and trustworthiness needed to get your message through to viewers.

In order to choose the best wardrobe for your interviews, let’s take a general look at style, color, prints and pattern, fabric, jewelry, accessories, and shoes, and review some miscellaneous do’s and don’ts.

Style for Men and Women

You certainly want to make a good first impression with a quality wardrobe when you appear on camera, but that does not mean that you have to invest thousands of dollars in designer clothes. In fact, a few simple guidelines can lead to smart choices in quality garments that will make you look like a million bucks without investing a small fortune.

Style – Men. Whether you are a CEO, chef, or a Hollywood animal trainer, you should choose the right attire that fits your profession, position, and your company culture. Not all CEOs wear suits and not all animal trainers wear khaki shorts and even if you do, you should evaluate how that attire will look on camera and make adjustments to favorably portray your personal brand.

For most men in professional careers, a wwell-fittedsuit is an obvious choice. Black and dark blue suits work best and you will need to pay attention not just to the patterns and color of your shirt, but the tie as well. Avoid vests because they are outdated and tend to look a little stuffy on TV.

Men should have about an inch of their shirt cuff showing past their suit sleeves. Sometimes a trendy style may read well in certain situations, but it can look ridiculous on camera or simply not flatter you.

Style – Women. Women have many choices when it comes to fashionable attire but if you remember this simple rule, it’ll take you a long way: If it doesn’t flatter you, do not wear it. I don’t care if it’s the hottest new trend, do not wear it.

Lately, I’ve noticed a huge trend for female on-air personalities, hosts, and anchors to wear sleeveless dresses and blouses — even in the middle of winter. This can be a good look if your upper arms are toned and tanned, but it can be very unflattering if you do not work out or are a tad overweight. Also, you have to apply body makeup on your arms. Just because it’s trendy doesn’t mean you have to wear it.

I personally think that it’s better to dress with classic pieces that have timeless value. The investment you make in your wardrobe will go further as a result and you can think in terms of building on your wardrobe instead of replacing it the moment the fashion trends turn. Obviously, if your expertise is fashion, then you need to make a more personalized decision to reflect your profession, but for the “rest of us,” it’s best to find outfits that flatter what we have to work with. That said, one way to determine how to dress for your interview is to take note of what on-air talent tends to wear and modify it to your personal style and profession.

 

Our next post? What colors work best on TV and the colors to avoid.

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

Marianne Schwab is the author of The Insider’s Guide to Media Training and the go-to broadcast media expert to show you how to get booked on TV and ace your on-camera interview. Her producer credits include Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Runaway with the Rich & Famous, E! Entertainment Television ON E! Specials, and many more. She has worked in broadcast for over 25 years and is currently the Executive Producer for CMP Media Cafe — a company specializing in broadcast public relations where she provides customized media training services for clients.

Copyright © 2017 by Marianne Schwab. Excerpt reprinted with Permission. All Rights Reserved.

Checklist for a Successful Satellite Media Tour Production

May 17, 2017

Satellite Media Tours (SMTs) have been around for several decades and even with all the new bells and whistles in the P.R. tool box, they are still one of the most effective ways to make a big media splash with TV (and radio with the SMT/RMT hybrid) in a five-hour span of time.

CMP Media Cafe SMT on location in Oahu.

An SMT is a series of pre-booked interviews conducted via satellite with a spokesperson in one city and television station reporters in selected cities across the country. The spokesperson speaks from one location in our Los Angeles or New York studio (or any studio or location in the country or around the world) and we electronically switch the spokesperson in sequence from one station to another, conducting live or taped one-on-one interviews with local reporters. In essence, a spokesperson can visit 15-to-25 cities in a matter of hours and this gives your company immediate access to the news media.

Once you’ve determined the basics for your SMT including your story angle, spokesperson, and have a booked tour, here are a few tips to guarantee a successful satellite media tour.

The Day Before the SMT – Checklist

The devil is in the details and the day before the tour is all about the spokesperson and a studio set check.

For the Spokesperson. There are five essential items that you need to do prior to the SMT. If you haven’t addressed these key ingredients prior to this date, this is the final opportunity.

  • Invest in Media Training.  I highly recommend a media training session. You are investing a significant amount of budget into the SMT and going that little extra on the budget is like insurance. Even if you have an experienced spokesperson or celebrity, they need to prep for THIS message. Not convinced? We have five questions to ask about media training that are a must read. We offer media training services. In fact, I’ve even written a book on it: The Insider’s Guide to Media Training.
  • Discuss Wardrobe Options.  There are specific rules for dressing for television so do not rely on your spokesperson to “show up” in a wardrobe you find pleasing or that represents your brand. There is a lot to this topic so please download this free wardrobe and make-up tip sheet that I offer as a bonus to readers of The Insider’s Guide to Media Training.
  • Confirm a Professional Make-Up Artist. We provide a professional make-up artist for all of our SMTs as part of our package. You need someone who understands the art of applying make-up for TV since it is different from other specialties. We work pros who have provided services for A-list celebrities, but if you have a celebrity spokesperson, they may want to hire a specific make-up artist so definitely ask them well before the date of the SMT if this is a preference. Also, make sure you confirm the rate for a specific make-up artist since the rate may exceed the “going rate” for SMTs and that budget needs to be approved so you’re not dealing with any surprise overages.
  • Prepare Cue Cards for Main Message Points. Even the most experienced spokespersons occasionally need to reference cue cards. In the situation of an SMT, there is a lot of deja vu happening when a spokesperson repeats the same interview up to 25 times so cue cards should be prepared to help guide them. I like to recommend that the spokesperson prepares their own since they are working with the messaging in their own words, but it is essential that these are CUE cards and NOT the script on cue cards. You can also work with them to provide them if they do not want this responsibility. You don’t need special materials for this. It’s easy to just print them out on a regular paper (use Landscape/Horizontal printing).
  • Ask About Catering Requests. Our SMTs always include a catered hot breakfast and in the era of “special needs eaters,” don’t forget to ask your spokesperson if they any special requests (or dietary restrictions) for catering. You don’t want a cranky spokesperson because they’re missing their favorite breakfast food or latte. Communicate any special requests to your SMT producer.

Visit the Studio and Set.  If the set has special requirements including props, always visit the studio and approve the set the day before the tour. This is generally done in the late afternoon (between 3pm to 5pm) since the studio will have other projects using the space prior to that time. Your SMT producer can make special arrangements, if needed, for earlier access. Make sure that any imperative props that are shipped arrive two days before the SMT and always have a contingency plan. If it is not an option to visit the set, request that the producer email photos of the set to you in advance so they can make any adjustments in advance (if necessary).

Plan On an Early Night.  Most SMTs require a 5:00am or 6:00am arrival or call time (that’s on the East Coast) and three hours earlier for the West Coast, so plan for an early night so you’re well rested. Also, confirm a car service or know your route the studio in advance.

 

The SMT Production Day – Checklist

If you have done your work the day before, then the day of production is an easy one so you can arrive at the studio, greet the spokesperson and while they’re in make-up, you can grab your breakfast in the green room.

Brief the Spokesperson. While the talent is make-up, take the opportunity to review the messaging for the day and ask them if they have any final questions. If you have new information that may help them (like a breaking news story reporters may ask about), prepare them with an appropriate response and way to pivot back to messaging.

Set the Cue Cards. Work with the producer to get the cue cards set for the Spokesperson for messaging. If a teleprompter is available, we put the info regarding the name of the anchor, station, and market so that the Spokesperson has an opportunity to personalize each interview. If a teleprompter is not an option, the small cue cards will do the trick and the cameraman will usually change them out between interviews.

Technical Rehearsal. I always schedule a technical rehearsal with the spokesperson at least 25 minutes before our first SMT interview (or hit). This gives the talent an opportunity to get warmed up and the control room can fine tune any tape roll-ins so that the b-roll will match the messaging or camera operators are clear on what their framing will be (if it’s a two camera SMT). Finally, this is your chance to help the spokesperson polish any final messaging. Watch their body language and make sure they are not slouching, fidgeting, or touching their hair (or other nervous gestures) and make them aware of it so they can self-correct.

Pay Attention to Each Interview.   It’s very easy to get distracted during a long SMT with emails and other business, but don’t do it. Follow along with each interview since no one knows the messaging better than you do and if the Spokesperson gets off message or gets thrown a curve ball with an interview, be ready to assist with any redirection. Keep in mind that your attitude and energy will directly impact your spokesperson, so supportive and excited when relaying feedback on messaging. It’s also best to have only one person in charge of communicating feedback so that the Spokesperson does not get rattled by too many voices. Determine with the SMT Producer how you want to handle this in advance. High energy is a must so keep an eye out to ensure the talent doesn’t start to fade or lose any steam in the middle of a tour. Finally, take notes about particularly good interviews that you may want to get as airchecks.

Document and Share on Social.   Take the opportunity to take lots of photos and short videos for social media channels. Get posed shots as well as some candid looks from behind-the-scenes. Keep it fun and light. You may want to have some tweets and posts preplanned and in your back pocket as well as short video tweet ideas (think in 9 seconds or less), snapchats, and Facebook live with a sneak peek behind-the-scenes in real-time. Promote the live events the day before and, if you’re working with a celebrity, ask for questions in advance and they’ll answer them live on social. Help prepare some witty responses, where appropriate, that weaves in a short plug for your product. Integrating social media into the mix adds even more value to the SMT. You may want to wait until you get your final SMT rundown until you schedule the social media and then plug it into the schedule, but be sure you let your SMT producer know you need this scheduled in.

Stay Calm and Carry On. There are a lot of moving parts during the SMT and even the best-planned events can have a wrinkle or two. If you’re working with a professional team, they’ll handle any unexpected events in a calm fashion.

If you’re considering an SMT for your client or brand, please feel free to contact me at CMP Media Cafe for a free consultation regarding your project.

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

 

 

 

Want More Earned Broadcast Media? You Need to Know What a Producer Really Does Each Day.

April 27, 2017

Before I started working as a producer to help Fortune 500 companies and the public relations agencies who represent them create newsworthy story angles to get media exposure, I worked on the inside of daytime talk TV as a producer for infotainment and entertainment format shows. My career started in New York at ABC-TV and then I moved to Los Angeles where I also worked for ABC in addition to other networks including E! Entertainment Television.

Regis Philbin and Marianne Schwab: I was recently reunited with Regis Philbin on the set of Hallmark’s Home & Family when he was in Los Angeles guest hosting the show. I was a Segment Producer for Regis in New York and also produced his travel feature on the Orient Express for “Runaway with the Rich & Famous.”

Since I started producing broadcast public relations twenty years ago, I gotta tell you that not much has changed regarding the basics of how shows are produced. Oh, sure, there’s been a digital revolution and the technology is very different, but except for “email,” producers STILL get faxes, receive snail mail, and the anatomy of a television segment has remained the same. Content is still king.

The Segment Producer Drives the Content of Most Shows. There is a lot involved in making TV segments entertaining and informative and it revolves around the Segment Producer.  Under-standing their world will help you to develop better pitches for your client or product and increase your ability to get you or your client booked with earned media interviews.

 

There are many types of producers in television but the primary producer you will work with is usually the Segment Producer. Most shows have two to ten Segment Producers depending on the type of show (and unless you have a direct contact at a newsroom, you’ll want to contact the Assignment Desk, which will vet your pitch for producers).

“Glamorous” Behind-The-Scenes Photo: At my desk — working for Regis. Michael Gelman’s desk was to my left.

When I was a Segment Producer on talk shows and lifestyle programs, I would field tons of media pitches each week from publicists, book authors, business people, and professional experts wanting a shot at getting featured on my show.

The Segment Producer puts the television segment together from beginning to end, starting with weeding through hundreds of media pitches each week to determine what will make the most entertaining segments for their show. They will then take the very best story ideas and pitch them to the Executive Producer (and/or possibly the Supervising Producer), who will ultimately decide if a segment pitch makes it on the air.

What Happens When the Pitch is Approved. Once a segment is green-lighted by the Executive Producer, the Segment Producer will contact the person who pitched the segment to get more information and schedule the date. They will schedule a pre-interview with the guest to determine the best way to approach the segment, write the segment intro or suggested anchor lead, and prepare the questions the host will ask so that the story flows logically and organically.

Additionally, Segment Producers must ensure that all of the props are collected and delivered to the set, arrange for a field crew to shoot appropriate video to support or enhance the segment, and work with an editor to cut appropriate video clips from the field video (or promotional clips of the movie or TV show for celebrity guests) that will drive the segment for in-studio interviews.

Now, after I booked a guest for the shows I produced, I would work directly with the publicist and the guest to structure a three-to-five minute segment with the goal of making it informative, entertaining, and fun – the pleasing cocktail known as info-tainment. Then, prior to the guest’s appearance, we would go over how the segment would work (or flow) and I would media train them so that when they got in front of the camera with the show’s host, they aced the interview, product demo, or cooking demo (note that demos would always involve a rehearsal before the show).

Marianne Schwab and Jack Canfield. Discussing my book, The Insider’s Guide to Media Training, with one of the best-selling authors of all time, Jack Canfield.

One of my primary goals as a producer (then and now) is to make sure every guest looks and does their best on TV, since failure is not an option on LIVE television and my reputation as a producer (and often, my job) is on the line. Many Executive Producers (my bosses) were known to say, “You’re only as good as your last segment.” That comment has motivated me to keep producing the highest quality throughout my career and also help on-air talent and spokespersons fine tune their on-camera appearances with my media training services. In fact, my book, The Insider’s Guide to Media Training, was just published and has detailed strategies for acing interviews.

It takes a lot of preparation to make things look spontaneous on camera and, yes, nothing happens on a program without planning it, but we did manage to pull off a few surprises for celebrity guests that were genuine and good TV.

Producer’s Insider Tip: Write a suggested Q&A “script” with the suggested intro and suggested tag (along with suggested message points – “suggested” is “key”). This gives the Segment Producer a great starting point and then they’ll tweak the script (or not). Only do this when you’ve studied the show’s style and format since you will only “score points” with this IF you are not writing a “one size fits all” boiler-plate script template. Customize it. The daily life of a Segment Producer is very hectic so if you can lessen their workload by “pre-producing” the segment (and the segment fits their format along with being info-taining), then you’re on your way to building a great working relationship with that producer.

Know Taping Schedules for Shows. When you can, find out the taping schedule for the shows you’re pitching. Some shows tape daily and are LIVE while some tape five shows in two days. On a daily show, there is usually a meeting after the show to discuss the next day’s show (some shows, like Fox & Friends, do a pre-show meeting) and pitch new ideas for upcoming programs. Do not leave messages for producers when they are taping the show or in the daily meeting and do not send them emails during these times (unless you have a breaking news story that is relevant to their show). However, if you can get to them before the daily meeting and your pitch is good, that’s a sweet spot for the producer and then they can pitch it that day.  Time sensitive pitches can happen outside of meetings, but this is a general rule.

The preceding is actually just the short list of how things come together for daily shows, but hopefully, it will give you a quick overview of what is involved in producing a three-to-five minute segment for a television program.  I’m certain that this insider information will help you be more effective when pitching shows.  Best wishes for success!

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

Five Questions To Ask About Media Training Your Spokesperson Before Your Next SMT or RMT

April 14, 2017

Media training your spokesperson for broadcast appearances on TV and radio (including satellite media tours) is often a service that is neglected or performed in-house at publicity agencies.  Before you make an investment in a spokesperson, spend time booking interviews, or engage a company to produce a SMT or RMT, there are five questions you should ask to determine if you need to add specialized media training services to your campaign budget.

#1.  We are paying a high fee for the spokesperson. Why should we spend additional budget to media train them? Even the most experienced spokesperson needs to rehearse and prepare for each on-camera appearance and specific client message. No one “wings it” and nails it. Clients invest a significant amount of budget in spokesperson fees and a public relations campaign (especially ones involving a satellite media tour), but all that can fall apart if the spokesperson’s delivery is not fine tuned for a flawless delivery for their multiple interviews. The investment in media training protects the investment in the SMT and Spokesperson to maximize on-air success.

#2.  Our spokesperson has a lot of media experience and is on television regularly. Why would they need media training? Depending on your spokesperson’s background or expertise, not all media experience is the same. Actors, celebrities, and experts also don’t have experience with the client’s specific messaging so they need to be professionally media trained so that they ace the on-camera interview(s) for the client.

ACTORS (CELEBRITIES): Actors always work from a script and need to be given exact message points, but also need training and rehearsal on how to deliver a client message in a sincere way that doesn’t feel canned or memorized and that viewers will find authentic.  They also need to be trained on how to handle curve balls when interviews don’t go as planned so that they stay on message and avoid creating a P.R. disaster (for them or the client).

CELEBRITIES (NON-ACTORS): Celebrities who are non-actors include reality show stars, chefs, book authors, bloggers, social media sensations, etc. They do not have experience being interviewed on-camera in the SMT format and need media training to master the client message plus handle unexpected questions so that every interview is a home run.

EXPERTS / BOOK AUTHORS (NON-ACTORS): An expert makes a great spokesperson because their professional experience and credibility makes them a book-able guest, but most are not comfortable in front of a camera and are very new to delivering a client message. Media training prepares them to handle every interview with confidence that is important for gaining viewers trust.

Nothing will kill your spokesperson’s on-camera credibility more than verbal fossils (i.e. “ah,” “um,” “uh,” “well,” “so,” “you know,” “er,” and “like” ).   They are distracting, weaken the message, and frankly, make you sound bad. As with other nervous habits, they’re probably not aware that they do them.

They need to learn do’s and don’ts or they could derail their credibility and how to:

  • minimize ahs, ums, and other verbal fossils.
  • avoid wasting precious airtime rambling.
  • deliver a structured message for the three minute interview.
  • segue from questions back to client messaging.
  • how to pivot.
  • handle curve balls.
  • deliver the client message in a way that does not seem too commercial.
  • deliver the message authentically.
  • understand exactly what the client expects.
  • balance the questions and weave in the client message.
  • look at the camera to engage with a reporter that they cannot see.
  • handle technical issues if the IFB drops out or they’re getting audio feedback.
  • manage nervous habits and mannerisms.
  • answer questions and how not to answer questions so that they look good and the client looks good.

#3.  Our celebrity spokesperson doesn’t think they need media training. How do we persuade them to do it? First, it should be in their contract as part of your spokesperson arrangement. Second, it is important for the celebrity’s image to always look their best on-camera so media training is insurance that their personal brand and image is protected. Protecting your brand is equally important.

#4.  Our P.R. agency already provides media training services. Why should we contract services outside of our own agency?   Many P.R. agencies do a great job of preparing spokespersons for certain appearances, but the problem is that the agency media trainer has tunnel vision regarding their client’s messaging and the spokesperson is prepared to deliver the message in a such a way that is over commercial and this can really turn producers off. They’ll cut the client message out of the interview (especially if it’s taped). Also, they don’t media train the talent from a producer’s perspective.

#5.  What is the benefit of having a TV producer media train a spokesperson? Nothing can compare to having an experienced TV producer media train your spokesperson. They’ve spent hundreds if not thousands of hours in control rooms coaching on-air talent through IFBs, diligently watching TV monitors to help the talent make adjustments so that their on-camera delivery comes across flawlessly. You want a producer’s keen eye, innate sensibilities, and experience to fine tune every nuance of your spokesperson’s delivery so that they nail your message and every interview.

If you’re investing a significant budget for a public relations campaign into a satellite media tour, but fail to train your on-camera spokesperson, your brand could be damaged and your investment wasted.

Marianne Schwab is the author of The Insider’s Guide to Media Training and the go-to broadcast media expert to show you how to get booked on TV and ace your on-camera interview. Her producer credits include Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Runaway with the Rich & Famous, E! Entertainment Television ON E! Specials, and many more. She has worked in broadcast for over 25 years and is currently the Executive Producer for CMP Media Cafe — a company specializing in broadcast public relations where she provides customized media training services for clients.

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Spokesperson No-No’s That “Drive Me Nuts”

May 13, 2015

At CMP Media Cafe, we provide media training services for spokespersons representing brands in radio and television. It is absolutely painful to watch well paid talent deliver messaging in an interview with reporters, anchors or radio hosts that cheapens a brand or that brand’s message by using these three “no-no’s” that drive me nuts:

1.  Saying, “That’s a Great Question,” in Response to a Reporter.   Of course, that’s a “great question” so why is the spokesperson wasting valuable air time with such a superfluous phrase that adds nothing to an interview?   This is a phrase that makes the answer sound like it’s amateur hour as the talent attempts to buy time to answer a question.

2. Responding with, “What I Like to Tell People.”  I worked with a spokesperson once that thought this was a clever phrase to use so he could issue his expert advice in the field of specialty. Here’s how it’s delivered: “Well, what I like to tell people is that they need to plan ahead for college entrance exams.” It is not clever. Just speak the advice instead of adding words that are not necessary while valuable airtime is wasted with unnecessary verbiage. The message is weakened and the expert’s stature is weakened because the phrase shows a lack of confidence in the message. Instead, just say, “Planning ahead for college entrance exams is essential because the consequences of not planning are the difference between getting into the school of your choice or missing out completely.”

3.  Using the Word “Try.” Hearing a spokesperson or expert in a television or radio interview say, “Well, what were trying to do is raise awareness on XYZ,” is a big mistake and a reflection of poor media training. There is no commitment in the word “try.” You either do or you do not do. The word “try” is very lame when it comes to presenting your message since it indicates an attempt versus a commitment. What the spokesperson should say is, “We want to raise awareness on XYZ,” or “We are working toward raising awareness on XYZ.” Keep this in mind when you are forming message points. It is also imperative that you educate your spokesperson on the importance of avoiding the use of the word “try.”

As you prepare a spokesperson for media appearances, I do hope you’ll keep these tips in mind.   Proper media training is essential to getting the most out of your investment or you could end up wasting a lot of money so check out the top five mistakes SMT spokespersons make.  There is absolutely no reason that a spokesperson should not be completely prepared for an on-air appearance that best reflects the product or brand they are promoting and the preparation will also help the spokesperson shine as well.

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

Copyright (c) 2015. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.

Top Five Mistakes SMT Spokespersons Make

July 9, 2014

I have been producing satellite media tours since 1996 and by and large, most of the spokespersons I have worked with whether industry experts or celebrities, have done a great job. However, there are many mistakes that even a good spokesperson makes.

1. Not making good eye contact with camera. This should seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how even celebrity spokespersons fail to make good eye contact with the camera. Especially for actors, direct eye contact with the camera does not necessarily feel natural. They are used to having their performances filmed with no regard to looking at the camera. Some actors may succeed at establishing good eye contact with the camera directly but have a tendency to look up when they are thinking about a response. That does not look good on-camera. If it happens once within an interview it’s okay, but when it happens over and over again it doesn’t feel right to the viewer.

For live interviews via satellite media tours or live shots, establishing eye contact with the camera as though it is the person you are talking to (because theoretically it is) is one of the most important aspects of being a good spokesperson.

2. Weak or Hesitant Vocal Tone. A spokesperson must deliver the message points with passion. If they do not have energy behind what they are saying, then they won’t seem believable. That does not mean they should give an over the top delivery of message points, but they should have high energy and enthusiasm. When there is even a slight hesitation or weakness in a vocal tone when delivering message points, the audience picks up that the spokesperson is not 100% on board with what they’re saying. This is a primary reason for media training since a hesitant tone will be present when a spokesperson is not confident and well trained on the message.

3. Over Commercializing the Message. Sometimes the spokesperson does not understand that the message cannot be “over commercialized” and they will say a product name numerous times within the interview or turn the interview into a commercial. Stations get very annoyed by this and it can be “deadly” for taped interviews since producers may decide not to air the interview or completely edit out the client message. There is no reason that if the spokesperson is media trained correctly that they cannot learn subtle ways to deliver product message points.

4. Using the Word “Try.” Hearing a spokesperson or expert in a television or radio interview say, “Well, what were trying to do is raise awareness on XYZ,” is a big mistake and a reflection of poor media training. There is no commitment in the word “try.” You either do or you do not do.

The word “try” is very lame when it comes to presenting your message since it indicates an attempt versus a commitment. What the spokesperson should say is, “We want to raise awareness on XYZ,” or “We are working toward raising awareness on XYZ.” Keep this in mind when you are forming message points. It is also imperative that you educate your spokesperson on the importance of avoiding the use of the word “try.”

5. Thinking a Spokesperson Doesn’t Need Media Traiing. If you think a high paid celebrity spokesperson can “wing it” without proper media training then you’re setting them up for an epic fail. I’ve worked with everyone from A-listers to D-listers and it doesn’t matter how famous they are, how talented they are, or how articulate they are, if they are not media trained appropriately on your particular message points, they will not be strong in an interview to get your message across.

Clients are often intimidated to require media training in the contract when working with celebrities (or perhaps an agent suggests that it is not necessary). As the producer, it’s my job to help the on-air spokesperson look and perform their best and media training is how you guarantee it.

When you enter into a contract with the celebrity spokesperson, it should include a minimum of a two-to-three hour media training session regarding the exact Q&A they will be required to address in their interviews. Particularly if you’re dealing with an actor, it is important that they know and rehearse their exact message points (keeping in mind that memorizing a script is NOT a good idea). Reassure the actor and their representatives that the reason this media training is required is to ensure that the celebrity will give their best performance on the air. This is a reasonable request, since most actors are aware they must rehearse their lines for a show or movie before they actually shoot the scene. Also, they don’t want to damage their professional credibility by appearing unprepared.

When spokespersons try to “wing” their message points after a brief review of what’s expected of them, you will find that they deliver interviews full of “and ah, ahs and umms.” They may try to convince you that their delivery will feel more “organic,’ but it will only come off as “messy” with a lack of conviction in what they are saying This is often interpreted by viewers (or radio listeners) as a lack of belief in what the spokesperson is saying. Never assume that a spokesperson can have minimal training and hit the message points out of the park.

 

So avoid these five mistakes and your SMT will be a success, plus here’s one final tip…..

Number One Tip for Spokesperson Success in Satellite Media Tours: Structure a two-to-three minute message point script with a suggested Q&A that you provide to all TV and radio stations prior to the interview. CMP Media Cafe does this for all of our broadcast projects and we find that reporters use our scripts verbatim 85% of the time. We include a Suggested Anchor Lead and Suggested Anchor Tag for the producers and media train our spokesperson to prepare them when anchors take the interview off script.

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

Copyright (c) 2014. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.