Posts Tagged ‘Indianapolis public relations’

Blending Viral Video into Your Marketing Outreach


It seems like every other day some video surfaces as the new viral hit, racking up millions of views in a short span of time. Often it’s serendipitous footage someone has managed to capture, such as a cute puppy breaking up a fight between two other dogs, or the world’s worst parking attempt.

Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd


More and more, however, viral videos are not just camcorder highlights but the carefully-thought-out efforts of a company marketing their products or services. Think of the ad craze for “The Big Game,” in which the sharing of and commenting on the commercials has become a cultural event unto itself.


Viral ≠ Expensive

But it’s not only video produced for broadcast on network television. Some of the most impactful ads are ones that were never even aired. Indeed, brands will produce something they know will never make it past network censors, such as this clever one starring Anna Kendrick for Newcastle Brown Ale. The entire piece is her lamenting that their commercial never got made.


Many videos are made for a fraction of the cost of a TV spot, and they are never intended to play anywhere except for YouTube, social media and the company’s website.


Some of these are one-offs that become a viral hit and then go away. But really smart brands are using humorous multimedia as a central plank of their outreach strategy, producing entire campaigns of videos.


Blended efforts produce results

One of my favorites is the “Will It Blend?” series from Blendtec, a company that manufactures high-end blenders.


Founder Tom Dickson wanted a way to demonstrate exactly how powerful their blenders are, and he began making videos of himself stuffing all sorts of crazy objects into their blenders and chewing them up — credit cards, a whole chicken and children’s action figures among them.


Dickson soon began fielding requests from people who wanted to suggest other things to be pulverized in a Blendtec blender. Thus, the name of the viral video campaign was born. The campaign really took off when Dickson put a first-generation iPhone into the blender and turned it into dust.


“Will It Blend?” is awesome because it memorably shows off the features of the product they’re selling while being hysterically funny. (Dickson’s dry “science guy” wit is a big bonus.) To date, the viral series has seen dozens of episodes with more than 300 million views on YouTube — and boosting Blendtec’s sales tremendously.


Challenges with online video

Of course, there are dangers in this sort of “rogue” marketing. Humor is challenging, because not everybody is funny, and not everyone will react the same way to the humor. One person’s killer joke is horribly offensive to someone else.


You also have to consider who your base of customers is and if you can reach them through YouTube and social media.


The best online videos are short — preferably 90 seconds or less, according to Shawn Sorrells. He should know: in addition to being Coles Marketing’s in-house videographer/photographer, he was also a TV news videographer and editor for many years.


“Nothing has the emotional impact of video,” Sorrells said. “If you can hit an emotional chord with someone, you’re well on your way to converting them into a customer.”


Looking to convert potential customers or clients with videography services and an integrated marketing campaign? Contact us about our Creative Shop Services today!



Have You Newsjacked Lately?


When was the last time you flipped through a newspaper, turned on TV news or scrolled through Twitter and found breaking news? It’s happening every day — a crime, an accident, severe weather, a political battle.


Tiffany Whisner

Tiffany Whisner

But how can you turn breaking news into a marketing opportunity for your organization? It’s called newsjacking.


Ride the popularity news wave

HubSpot’s Corey Eridon said, “Newsjacking refers to the practice of capitalizing on the popularity of a news story to amplify your sales and marketing success.”


Newsjacking was made popular by David Meerman Scott with his book, “Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage.” He offers tips on how to take advantage of breaking news and use it to generate media attention for your business.


But you have to take action at the right time. There’s a point in the life of the news story between the news breaking and the scramble of journalists for additional information. This is the time to newsjack.


In most cases, breaking news becomes old news pretty quick, and the interest in that story dies down. To take advantage of newsjacking, don’t get wrapped up in the details of the marketing campaign or ruminate on the exact angle of a blog post. Just go for it.


Not-so-new concept breaks ground

Newsjacking isn’t a completely cutting-edge concept. Public relations professionals have been using it for years. However, it’s getting more attention as brand and content marketing is advancing to the forefront of the industry.


Why should you newsjack? Mark Sherbin of the Content Marketing Institute said benefits include:

  • Boosting SEO
  • Drawing in readers with ultra-timely commentary
  • Sharing a new angle for branded content ideas
  • Leading your market in thought leadership


Newsjacking also “improves your brand’s reputation and drives highly-targeted traffic that can turn into leads and even sales,” Eridon said. But it’s a very delicate practice as well.


Countless brands that tried to make the best of Hurricane Sandy is one prime example, as are Kenneth Cole’s infamous Egyptian revolution and Syrian conflict tweets, which exploited a massive social movement and a source of considerable human suffering as opportunities to push products,” said Content Marketing Institute’s Britt Klontz in her article.


It’s a fine line between brilliance and breakdown.


Get newsjacking right

The key to newsjacking is thinking and acting fast. HubSpot’s Eridon shared some steps to move through the process:

  1. Set up alerts. Constantly monitor the news. Set up alerts for both natural and out-of-the-box opportunities.
  2. Check keyword search volume. Once you find a story to newsjack, create content around it. Also, research the search volume around variations of the keyword phrase you’d like to target.
  3. Read about your topic. Find the primary source of the news story and what others have written. It allows you to maintain originality and credibility.
  4. Write quickly but accurately. Get to writing, and do it fast! You want to be the first to respond to the news story … but make sure your content is accurate.
  5. Differentiate yourself. Ask yourself — what makes this story interesting to my audience? Give a reason for people to reference your content above the rest!


And Ragan’s Elizabeth Breese offered some additional technical tips about taking newsjacking success to the next level:

  1. Maintain targeted media lists. Build a dedicated list of journalists who will welcome your organization’s angle on a breaking news story.
  2. Pitch, don’t spam. Don’t spam every journalist covering the breaking news story. Reach out with a personalized message.
  3. Offer substance. Let media contacts know what additional information your business or client can provide.
  4. Don’t forget to share. When the story has been published or aired, treat it like your own. Share and promote it over your company’s social channels.


Newsjacking can be risky, but when done right, it can be very rewarding for your business.


Take Action for Your Health


“I decided to have bariatric surgery because my quality of life was not what I wanted it to be. I couldn’t play with my kids the way I wanted to. I couldn’t be the mom to them I wanted to be.”


That’s how Brandy Walters felt, a patient at the Bariatric Center at Columbus Regional Health. So she took action to improve her health. Brandy had gastric bypass surgery on September 22, 2009. Since then, she has lost 135 pounds.


“I chose the Bariatric Center at Columbus Regional Health for my surgery because I really appreciated the staff they had working there. They care about their patients, and they really care about the success of their patients,” Brandy said.


Coles worked with the Bariatric Center to find local patients in the community who are now able to participate in a physical activity that was difficult to do before bariatric surgery.


The “Now, I Can” campaign helps communicate to potential patients that quality-of-life issues are the best reasons to have bariatric surgery. The Bariatric Center identified Brandy as a patient who was compliant and had success with the bariatric surgery program, using the surgery as a tool to get healthy but also continuing with exercise and a healthy diet after the surgery.


Once Brandy was chosen to be featured in the marketing campaign, the Coles team contacted her and wrote a testimonial about her journey. Along with before and after photos, Coles integrated the campaign with video, print ads, online banner ads and billboards.


From Hope, Ind., Brandy chose a local park to do the video and photo shoot, where she could be active with her kids and show off what she had accomplished after the surgery.


“The Bariatric Center picked Brandy because of her personality and dedication to staying healthy, conveying all the great aspects of the bariatric program,” said Coles’ Vice President Public Relations Chris Mercier. “Not only has she kept the weight off, but she’s volunteered her time with the Bariatric Center Advisory Council and is even heading up an exercise program focused on bariatric patients who may be training for a 5K, half marathon or marathon.”


Now — after bariatric surgery — Brandy herself competes in races and also coaches her sons’ little league and soccer teams.


“But more importantly, now I have energy, joy, dreams coming true and memories being made,” Brandy said. “I am more active and involved in the lives of my children, husband, family and friends than I’ve ever been before.”


Click here to see Brandy’s video testimonial, produced by the Coles team. The “Now, I Can” campaign has also grown organically, with many successful bariatric patients posting what they “now can” do on the Center’s Facebook page.

Bariatric Center_standard


Marketing With a Bang!

iS_6140781MediumDid you know … On July 4th alone, the biggest hot dog day of the year, 155 million hot dogs will be consumed. That is enough hot dogs to stretch from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., more than five times.


Tiffany Whisner

Tiffany Whisner

Let’s take a minute to ponder that. WOW.


While some clients and customers may be out of the office enjoying their 4th of July hot dogs and hang outs, that’s no reason to let your company’s branding and marketing efforts burn out. There are great opportunities to tie in Independence Day with some unique marketing campaigns to continue to keep your messaging on fire.


“Whether they’re poolside group shots or fireworks finale Vines, your consumers will be sharing social content this holiday. Savvy marketers will find ways to put this stream of content to work for their brands,” said Mairead Ridge in her Offerpop blog.

  • Run a Facebook photo contest that prompts fans to submit their favorite July 4th memories. Offer brand-related prizes to the fans with the most votes.
  • Honor the occasion with a patriotic photo contest, asking fans to share how they show their American pride in exchange for great prizes. Include an entry form as part of the campaign, and capture valuable data.
  • Create a photo gallery on your website that features fans in their favorite summer getaway looks. Promote it across all your marketing channels, prompting fans to get inspiration for their beach outings and parties. Use the user content to drive traffic to relevant product pages and make sales.
  • Create a Twitter campaign around a special offer — like 25% off all items on your site. Then, promote the contest via a dedicated email to your customer base.
  • Run a themed quiz on your website. Ask consumers to answer American history trivia, or vote on their favorite July 4th movie moments. Produce fun, shareable content you target audience will love.


And as Ridge said, “Many consumers will be traveling this July 4th, so make sure your digital campaigns are mobile-optimized and designed for easy engagement.”


Okay, what about other marketing ideas that give your company the chance to get involved in the community? Here are some ideas from Swipely:

  • Be part of the action. Have a special place to watch the fireworks? Make an exclusive offer to your best clients and their families to join you for the annual viewing. Not much room? Make it a sweepstakes and make it special with themed decorations and maybe a goodie bag to take home with branded swag that guests can wear and share.
  • Participate. If you can’t host an event, you can participate in one of the local 4th of July parades either by submitting an entry or helping to sponsor the event. Talk to your local Chamber of Commerce to find out more.
  • Whatever you decide to do, make sure you get the word out. A fisheye photo of a Fabulous Fourth AmeriCake is featured in your email newsletter. Holiday-themed recipes and pictures are posted to your Pinterest page. An e-blast is sent to your mailing list encouraging them to celebrate with you.


Light up your grill … but don’t forget to light up your next marketing campaign as well! ENJOY!



Oh, The Places You’ll Advertise!


Advertising tells the world about your brand or product through various forms of paid media. Ads are placed where advertisers think they will reach the largest, most relevant audience.


Tiffany Whisner

Tiffany Whisner

Once upon a time that was in TV and radio commercials, print ads and billboards. Now there’s Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and many others also trying to grasp their piece of the advertising pie.


“Brands are looking for new places to advertise because people are looking for new ways to communicate,” said Brian Coles, VP marketing at Coles Marketing.


Google goes from the wrist to the wall

AppleInsider has a sneak peek into the places where Google says it might advertise, including thermostats, glasses, watches and car dashboards.


From its filing with the SEC, Google said, “Our expectation is that users will be using our services and viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future, and thus our advertising systems are becoming increasingly device-agnostic.”


As noted in the AppleInsider article by Neil Hughes, “The mention of glasses and watches is no surprise, as Google is betting heavily on the future of wearable devices, through both its Google Glass project, as well as its forthcoming Android Wear platform.”


And have you seen Google’s self-driving car? In late May, Google presented a new prototype of their driverless car with no steering wheel or pedals. So it would make sense to advertise on those car dashboards!


Promoted pins and video ads roll out

But Facebook won’t be outdone when it comes to advertising. The social media giant began selling video ads in the U.S. in March. And now it’s expanding this new service to seven other countries, according to Reuters.


In his article, Alexei Oreskovic said these video ads are one of Facebook’s most closely-watched new advertising products. It could help Facebook gobble up an even bigger slice of brand advertising budgets.


“Advertising in general is about hitting the right person at the right time, and social media advertising has this down pat,” Coles said.


Here’s a pinteresting idea! Pinterest has been experimenting with Promoted Pins, ads featuring placements from select retailers and other businesses. Now the company is doing a paid test of Promoted Pins.


“The launch of paid ads is a notable milestone for Pinterest,” said Sarah Perez in her TechCrunch article. A small number of brands are participating to begin with, including ABC Family, GAP, Kraft and Target, among others.


You’re putting that magazine ad where?

It’s not a big deal to see a Verizon Wireless ad in Time magazine. But what if that ad is on the cover?


For the most part, magazine cover advertising has been avoided because it violates “widely-observed guidelines from the American Society of Magazine Editors … which are meant to emphasize and protect editorial independence from marketers,” said Michael Sebastian in his AdAge article.


Guess the need for new revenue is becoming more important. Or maybe it’s just the desire to “be entrepreneurial,” said Time Inc.’s Chief Content Officer Norman Pearlstine.


“Traditional media outlets like magazines need to get creative in order to stay competitive with new advertising,” Coles said.


There’s no such thing as “free”

Coles has the following thoughts when it comes to the future of advertising:

  • The world will continue to move in the mobile direction, and messaging will need to be more concise and direct.
  • The days of picking one advertising medium to get your message across are gone.
  • As consumers, we need to get used to the idea that there is no such thing as “free” digital content. One way or another, consumers will have to pay.


Get more advertising advice from Brian Coles and the Coles Marketing team today!


Applying Parenting Skills to the Workplace


Like many parents who have young children at home, I’ve been accused of having baby on the brain.


Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd

Parenthood is such an all-consuming responsibility that it can often feel like it pushes out everything else in life you used to regard as so important. (Hobbies? Fuhgedaboutit.)


But I’ve been surprised by how much the skills I’ve developed as a dad have been helpful in the workplace, and vice-versa. I truly believe being a parent has made me a better marketing professional, and some of the things I do during the workday assist me in caring for our two boys (ages 3½ and 11 months).


Translatability from home to work

This is not to suggest that changing diapers will make you a zippier writer or that bath time will help you create better code for your company’s new mobile app. But some of the tasks you have to do or challenges you face as a mom or dad can enhance your workflow on the job.


For instance, I’ve had to improve my financial planning skills, prioritizing what needs are most urgent (shoes, doctor appointments) and what can wait (my idea for stone borders in the backyard).


I’ve also become more proactive, setting goals six months ahead of time instead of six days. And I’ve learned to become a master of coordinating with my wife, for everything from the weekly meal plan and annual vacations to home repairs.


Staying on the move

Studies have shown that men who are actively engaged with their children are more likely to be successful on the job.


As LifeWorks put it, “In both roles, success comes from connecting and cooperating with other people, adapting to quickly changing conditions, and earning the support of others to achieve results.”


For marketing, that’s a spot-on description of the profession: it’s constantly on the move, and your success is directly reliant upon your ability to collaborate well with peers and clients. Of course, these same criteria apply to many other industries, from healthcare to accounting.


Anticipate and create

Sanaz Marbley of JMPR Public Relations has an excellent article on her company’s blog about the similarities between her day job and her new role as a mom. Among them:


  1. Anticipate Needs – For babies and clients. If you can figure out when your child is going to need something, you can avoid a number of meltdowns. Similarly, you will gain the trust and confidence of your clients when you can anticipate their needs.
  2. Be a Contingency Planner – Think ahead, get ahead. Make a list of the “what ifs” and be prepared to deal with each situation accordingly.
  3. Pay Attention to Detail – That’s where you make it or break it. Developing a system to help you keep track of the details is crucial in caring for your child or your client. Set up a game plan in advance, and follow up to make sure goals are accomplished.
  4. Use Creative Problem Solving – Come up with wild ideas, then shape to fit. Use your imagination to distract your child or come up with how your client can add flare to their next event.
  5. Get Some Perspective – Step back sometimes for the eagle’s-eye view. Take a breather to get some perspective and come back recharged.


If you need help with any of these areas, the Coles Marketing team has the expertise you need!


Crib Safety: “If You Can ‘Can’ It, Ban It”


A summertime tradition, garage and yard sales are here once again. And while you can find some great bargains and interesting new finds, you should keep some safety tips in mind if you are hunting for a crib.


Eric A Yancy, MD 2.8.12“Many families have vintage cribs from relatives or neighbors that have been passed down from older children and previous generations. If these cribs were built before 2011, it is likely they aren’t up to today’s crib standards,” said MHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric A. Yancy. “Today’s standards don’t allow for the crib slats to be more than six centimeters apart.”


Dr. Yancy said a good way to measure this is with a soda can. If the can passes through the crib slats, it’s probably not a safe crib, meaning the slats are further apart than allowed. “Slats that are far apart may lead to infant entrapment and strangulation. If you can ‘can’ it, ban it.”


Also, drop-side cribs, while convenient, are also unsafe. Faulty mechanisms have allowed the drop sides to cause strangulation deaths. They are no longer considered safe and shouldn’t be used. Headboard “cut-outs” on a crib are also not recommended because of the safety issue of entrapment.













Dr. Yancy has some additional tips for crib safety:

  • There should be no pillows or toys in the crib, which could cause suffocation.
  • The mattress should be relatively firm. The baby shouldn’t be able to sink into the coverings.
  • Keep a monitor near the crib at all times.
  • Remove knobs or attachable toys from the crib to prevent the baby’s clothing from getting caught, which could cause choking.
  • Keep the crib away from windows.
  • Lower the crib mattress as the baby changes stages, from rolling to pulling up to standing, to prevent falls from the crib.



Managed Health Services (MHS) is a Coles client. The Coles team helped spread the word … check out some interviews we helped coordinate that Dr. Yancy did with Indianapolis-area media about crib safety:

“Garage sale crib bargain may pose safety threat” (WISH-TV, Channel 8)

Video: Crib Safety (WISH-TV, Channel 8)

“In the market for a crib? Beware if shopping used!” (WXIN-TV, FOX 59)


Take Note: Good Writing Still Matters


According to We Are Social’s 2014 Global Digital Statistics, 2.5 billion people are online, and 1.8 billion are on social networks.


In June 2012, more than 423 billion texts were sent that month, as noted by Statistic Brain. Multiple hours are spent daily typing on desktop and mobile devices, through email, texting and social media.


Tiffany Whisner

Tiffany Whisner

BTW, I’m lost in translation

When people often text and type in shorthand, such as “BRB” (be right back) and “LOL” (laughing out loud), is it any wonder that proper grammar gets lost in translation?


Some suggest polished writing isn’t necessary anymore. It’s more about getting your point across. But as Amy Hourigan says in her blog, “Do you think your boss will take you seriously if you email, ‘I want 2 c u to talk about a promotion?’”


She writes about 75% of hiring managers said a grammar or spelling error on a job application is worse than showing up late to an interview. And Andrew Clarke says in an Entrepreneur article, when investors see a business plan “with spelling, punctuation and grammar errors, they immediately wonder what else is wrong with the business.”


Make grammar your thing

Whether you are penning a long-form article or blog, use correct grammar to let others know you aren’t ignorant of the rules … or just ignorant.


Here are some tips from ShortStack in Kristin Piombino’s PR Daily article and from Jon Gingerich in his LitReactor column:


  1. Lay vs. Lie: Lay is a transitive verb that requires a subject and one or more objects. Lie is an intransitive verb that needs no object.

Example: Lay – I lay the pencil on the table. Yesterday I laid the pencil on the table. Lie – The Andes Mountains lie between Chile and Argentina. The man lay waiting for an ambulance.

Note: The most common mistake occurs when the writer uses the past tense of the word lay (I laid on the bed) when he/she actually means the past tense of lie (I lay on the bed).

  1. Further vs. Farther: Further is used to indicate figurative distance. Farther is used to indicate physical distance.

Example: If you complain further about Google+, I will move my desk farther away.

  1. I vs. Me: I is used when the pronoun is the subject of a verb. Me is used when the pronoun is the object of a verb.

Example: Sara and I are attending Social Media Marketing World this year. Can you attend Social Media Marketing World with Sara and me?

Note: It is never correct to say “Sara and I’s favorite social media event.” Instead, you would say “Sara’s and my.”

  1. I.e. vs. e.g.: i.e. is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase meaning “that is.” Use i.e. to help explain what you said but in a different way. E.g. is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase meaning “for example.”

Example: Social media networks, e.g. Facebook and Twitter, have made it possible for customers to communicate directly with brands, i.e. allowing them to critique and compliment in a public forum.

  1. Whether vs. If: Many people assume “whether” is interchangeable with “if.” It isn’t. Whether expresses a condition where there are two or more alternatives. If expresses a condition with no alternatives.

Example: I don’t know whether I’ll see a movie tonight. I’ll see a movie tonight if I have money for a ticket.


Right the wrongs, IMHO

We all make grammar and punctuation errors. But don’t let these errors be a reflection of you or your business’s professionalism, creativity and attention to detail … or lack thereof.


Coles Marketing can be your second set of eyes. Contact us today!


Staying On Track in a Distracting Workplace


If you work in an office setting, it can sometimes be a minefield of would-be distractions, both personal and digital. From email, voicemail messages and drop-ins from your boss or co-workers, it can be a tremendous challenge to stay focused on a project when there is so much competition for your attention.


How bad can it get? A University of California, Irvine, researcher found a typical office worker only gets to work uninterrupted for 11 minutes! And it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task at hand.

Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd


How we work today

Part of the issue is the everyday nature of the modern workplace. But much of it is also how we’ve trained ourselves to always be available to our clients and colleagues. Not answering a text or email immediately can be viewed as detrimental to a professional relationship.


Couple that with the increasing popularity of open-office plans without dividers and an emphasis on collaborative give-and-take, and many feel afraid to say, “No, I’m busy right now.”


Delays=Lower quality

But don’t people eventually adjust to the hectic new workflow? In one experiment, a journalist and a scientist conducted a study in which people were asked to read a short passage and answer questions about it, while being interrupted a certain number of times.


They found those expecting an interruption that never came initially did poorer than those who were never distracted, but made up the gap on subsequent efforts. So it is possible to “train” yourself for distractions. Though being left completely alone is still the best option.


Coping with distraction

There are some suggestions out there for handling distractions. Not all are possible for every situation, but you can mix and match to find the best system for you:


  • Andrew Marsh, CEO of Fifth Column Games, actually gave employees a literal “cone of silence” they could place on their desks to let colleagues know they were in an “uninterruptable” period.
  • Take frequent breaks. Human bodies are said to have a 90-minute energy cycle. So this operates as a handy guide for how long people can work straight before needing to recharge.
  • Know your own energy rhythms. Some people are at their creative best first thing in the morning. Others don’t really get humming until after lunchtime. Learn when you’re at your best, and try to set that time aside for your most intense tasks.
  • Not every email really needs an immediate response. And when you do write back, keep your replies short and sweet.
  • Have a go-to phrase to let people know now is not the right time. It can be as simple as, “I can’t talk now, can you send me a meeting request?”


Being able to cope with and reduce distractions in order to focus on the task at hand has become a necessity.


Another great solution is to delegate some of your communications needs to an agency. Coles Marketing certainly has the experienced team to help!


How To Make Your Point In A TV Interview


Image right: Coles’ client BBB CEO Tim Maniscalo is interviewed by INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS host, Gerry Dick.

Your company has recently been selected to provide services for a prominent pharmaceutical company and a local television business has contacted you for a brief interview. Resist the temptation to think that because your segment will be short, it will be practically devoid of content and therefore you won’t need much preparation.

Some of the most successful communications in history were memorable because they were concise and well planned. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln took only two minutes to deliver the Gettysburg Address, what is considered as one of the greatest, most profound speeches in this country’s history.

Also resist the idea that the TV reporter will wield all control over the interview and that you will be only a passive participant. Interviewers are happiest when you take an active role – it just makes their job easier. If you properly prepare for your interview, your company will reap lasting benefits from your memorable message. The “third-party credibility” (substantiation that is subconsciously given to information presented on the news) that you receive in a successful interview cannot be equaled.

Some of the following guidelines will help you take full benefit of this opportunity to make your point:

First, prepare.

• You must shine most brightly when discussing the topics conducive to your “pitch” (the topic, event, or issue you wish to promote). Therefore, do your homework on every area of your topic.

• Anticipate likely questions. A few days before your interview, have a colleague present the questions to you in different forms so that you can practice the answers.

• Do keep it short. Especially for news programs, you need to speak in “20-second sound bites.” Again, it takes practice to deliver a message this efficiently. Your ideas, arguments and reasons should be compressed into quick phrases that instantly transmit ideas.

• Know that audiences that are tuning in and out throughout the whole program. Therefore, prepare to interest the viewing audience up-front, then reiterate your central message later in the interview.

Techniques for taking some control.

It’s up to you to strike a balance between where you want the interview to go and where the interviewer wants to take the show. Since controlling an interview is a matter of emphasizing areas of conversation, it’s a good idea to develop and practice some conversational transitions that make graceful changes possible.

• Build on a previous comment.  The “as you mentioned” transition works because it unifies your thought with something the host said earlier.

• Gracefully pivot.  If the interview isn’t going in the direction you had hoped, you can initiate a new topic. There’s no need to wait for an invitation.

• Bring a sparkle to your interview by planning to use humor, an anecdote, example or fact that is memorable. For example, if your interview topic is your     company’s upcoming annual event to raise money for its charity, briefly tell a humorous story from last year’s event. This technique helps to personalize your message and build rapport with your audience.

Tricks for sticky situations.

• The dreaded question.  Suppose that the question you most dread is asked, despite your masterful efforts to steer clear the conversation elsewhere. Before you answer, remember that the media exacts a severe penalty upon those who side-step the truth. The way to maintain control in this situation is to anticipate it, and prepare for it.

1. Briefly and simply state the case with any corrections in a calm manner.

2. Describe the result or resolution.

3. Explain any actions that will be taken in the future.

4. Gently change the subject to a related but non-controversial topic.

If your host becomes argumentative (a very unlikely prospect, but if…), be calm. It takes two to argue, and if you won’t “bite,” the host will have to move on. When asked a question you can’t answer, simply say, “That is a good question, and I don’t know the answer, but I’ll be happy to find out. Perhaps you could let the audience know on the next program.” Be direct, never evasive. Honesty builds credibility and your candor will make you likeable. Suppose the host goes off your subject. In this case, simply answer the question, then use a transition such as “Many people ask me…” as a bridge to your next point.

Common pitfalls.

• Remember, the home viewer is your true audience.

• Earn the interest of the audience before you give out the date of your event (or your address, phone number, business location, etc.) Not until the audience is saying to themselves, “This subject is interesting,” will they pay attention to information about how to get in touch with you.

• Be yourself at your most scintillating, but unless you’re a professional actor, don’t try to come across as someone you’re not. Audiences detect phoniness.

• Give substantive answers, but stay alert to signals from your host and the floor director that you are talking too long.

• No matter what occurs in the interview – whether the host has thrown you a question you wished to avoid, or has made a comment you consider disagreeable – be polite. Nothing looks worse on television than a temper.

You’ll never be – and shouldn’t be – in absolute control of your interview. It’s should truly be a partnership. Through preparation, a positive approach, and a determination to take charge without being pushy, you can be comfortable and productive in your new role as interviewee.