by Katharina Rath
A lot of people will remember the Skype interview of Professor Robert Kelly on BBC News from earlier this year. Close to 25 million people watched how the interview was interrupted by his toddlers walking into his home office. At the Flame PR office, we were amongst the first ones clicking on the YouTube video and I must admit, we had quite a laugh. But to be fair, would you have the nerves to do a live TV interview on Skype?
I just returned from the Ambrosetti Forum, set against the picturesque Lake Como, with two new Skype contacts: Sky News and CNN. Nowadays, almost everybody has access to internet and a webcam. This year two of the broadcasters didn’t have a team on the ground, so Skype was a convenient alternative to carry out interviews.
However, not everybody was comfortable participating in an interview without meeting and seeing the anchor face to face. Only the most media-experienced speakers accepted the interview requests, including the likes of Mario Monti, former prime minister of Italy, Jean Claude Trichet, former president of the European Central Bank, and Lord Turner. Skype interviews are a great opportunity to give broadcast interviews quickly and conveniently, from anywhere around the world. With the right preparation, you can master them with great effect.
As the person on the ground, I took care of the Skype test. The broadcasters usually have private Skype accounts so you have to wait to be added to their contacts. It’s important to clock the small details: Is the internet connection strong enough? Is the camera centred and is the light better with the curtain opened or closed?
There usually isn’t a long run up from the time the interview is set until it takes place. There were only a few minutes to brief the speakers at the event as the schedule was tight. Once they arrived in the media room, the connection with the broadcasters was already established. For a minute or two we could listen to the programme and then the questions started.
Broadcast interviews are a fabulous platform to promote your ideas. So if you aren’t a media champion yet, I would recommend preparing in advance. Formulate your messaging and practice the interview situation with somebody who is experienced with broadcast. Training first and being in your familiar surroundings will help to get comfortable in front of the webcam during a live interview. And when the day comes, make sure you lock your doors, so you’re not the next person amusing the nation.