Environmental hazards and outside TV interviews

Poor old Rishi Sunak didn’t have a lot of luck in making his big announcement calling a general election the other day.  He was widely mocked for ploughing through a lengthy speech outside Number 10 in the rain with no umbrella – leaving him absolutely soaked, his suit doubtless ruined, his words having to compete with loud music played by a protester just outside Downing Street.  As a media event, it highlights the risks of an outside appearance where you can’t always control the surroundings. So what are the rules if you want to look your best?  TV crews often prefer interviewing people outside if possible – particularly for quick pre-recorded clips if they are putting together a news report – as it can save a lot of time for them.  Otherwise they have to find somewhere to park, unload the equipment, find a suitable meeting room in the office that isn’t too sterile-looking, set up lights and so on.  The outside interview can work very well if there is somewhere quiet where this can be efficiently carried out, with a background that is attractive or at least not too distracting.  But as the Prime Minister found, those environmental factors may detract from the message you are trying to get across if you aren’t careful.

Apart from the risk in some places of police or security men moving you on if you haven’t obtained prior filming permission, ask yourself whether the background is smart or messy.  A row of bins just to the side of you doesn’t exactly send the right message unless the topic is waste disposal.  Don’t be afraid to ask if you can move around slightly to improve the shot from your point of view, or just move to a different location.  Are there many passers-by?  You don’t want kids coming up behind you waving ‘hello mum’ during your best answer.  A dog loudly barking or workers digging up the road nearby can mean endless re-takes if you’re unlucky.  As for the weather – if a downpour is forecast and you don’t want to look like a drowned rat, it may be smarter to remember the old phrase ‘discretion is the better part of valour’ and at least bring a large umbrella – or insist on doing the interview indoors.

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