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Last week I was interviewed by Doug Simon, whose company, DS Simon Productions, produces all kinds of video for use by PR and marketing clients, for broadcast and social media use. Doug’s video blog, or vlog, vlogviews.com, features a series of chats with marketing and public relations people, as well as some well-known journalists and businesspeople (Dan Rather, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Stuart Elliott, Richard Edelman, etc.) So when Doug contacted me and asked if he could interview me for his vlog, I was very flattered. The topic he wanted to cover was international public relations, which is one of our foremost specialties. This is an area I know a lot about – on which I’m considered an expert. So I was very confident about the interview. Doug even sent me the questions he planned to ask in advance. So I went blithely to the interview.
That sums up the feeling I had after the interview was over. I told Doug and the producer who recorded the interview that I thought I hadn’t done well, but they insisted that it really was OK. I left the interview and walked back to my office thinking, “They were just being nice. I made a complete fool of myself. I rambled, I didn’t have any key points to make that were helpful to my business and my answers were way too long.” I told my staff that I had failed miserably and made a mockery of myself and the company. I kept thinking, “Lucy, you idiot, you didn’t listen to the instructions and advice you give your own clients. You deserve to be laughed at!”
Looking back, I realize that I made several key mistakes that made me feel terrible about my interview:
- I was way overconfident. Yes, I’m an expert about international business. But I’m not accustomed to having a video camera pointed at me while I’m questioned on the topic.
- I didn’t prepare well. I looked at the questions Doug wanted to ask and thought of how I would answer them, but since I was busy, I didn’t practice answering them. As a result, when I was on camera, I rambled on and on.
- I didn’t prepare explicit examples that I could use to explain the points I was making, so I sounded vague.
- I didn’t develop key messages for myself that I wanted to get across in the video – messages that would help my company in a subtle way.
These are just the types of problems that I coach our clients to avoid. A title of a rock ‘n roll song that was popular when I was a kid sums it all up: “Easier Said Than Done.” Those of us who work in PR telling others how to behave in a TV interview are rarely in the position ourselves to practice what we preach.
On Tuesday, I received a link to the interview and, because I had expressed so much doubt to Doug and his producer about how it had come out, they said they’d wait until I saw and approved it before they made it live. (This is something that a broadcast media outlet would never do, so don’t even think about asking CNN or MSNBC to do this!) When I watched myself on the screen, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. So, I told DS Simon Productions to let the video go live.
Here’s the thing: although I didn’t actually make a fool of myself on camera, I wasted an opportunity to link our conversation about international communications to my company’s experience and services. I was indeed my own worst client.
Now that I’ve pointed out the weaknesses of my own performance on camera for you, take a look at it with a critical eye. I’d like you to learn from my experience!
By Lucy Siegel