What does a media interview say about you and your organisation, whether remotely via Zoom, on the phone or in the studio? It’s about more than just the points you make – it’s the overall impression you create. As such, it can be very powerful for building your public image, for better – or worse. For example, if you are so ‘on-message’ that you appear never to be answering the question, you will turn journalists and audiences off, rather than impress them with your ability to control the conversation. Similarly, people will notice your style of delivery, your warmth (or lack of it), and your visual background – particularly important when so many TV interviews are still being carried out from home via Zoom or Skype. A good example was the British Gas boss this month, interviewed at a time of soaring customer complaints, from his comfortable home (in line with the company’s new workplace policy, even after the working from home guidance had been lifted). This jarred with the point made by many critics (and customers) that staff not working from the office has led to a big drop in customer service standards, with British Gas particularly in the firing line. Not good for the corporate reputation.
So, is there something distracting in your zoom shot that looks unprofessional, or creates the wrong impression? Is your style and delivery awkward/jarring/ hesitant/brittle? The best interviewees focus on coming across as credible, trustworthy and if possible, likeable. Then we’re subconsciously much more likely to warm to them, and take on board their points. That’s why in terms of our media training we try to look at all these aspects, and don’t go along with the old PR line of ‘it doesn’t matter what the question is, just get your key messages across’. It’s the whole picture that’s being communicated, not just the words you say.