The scariest things publicists have heard their clients say


In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d share some of the scariest things publicists have heard their clients say:

“I don’t need to prep for the interview, I’ll just wing it.”

Even the most seasoned public speaker needs to practice and prepare for an interview. Trust us, the thrill of being on air coupled with the inevitable surge of adrenaline will make you glad you took the time to thoroughly plan what you are going to say.

“Just tell them I can talk about anything.”

No one knows better than you what your areas of expertise are. The media is looking for polished, articulate professionals and thought-leaders that can shed light on specific issues and topics. If you are unable (or unwilling) to effectively convey what you are qualified to discuss, media outlets will simply find someone else who will.

“I’m really not left or right, I’m in the middle.”

At the end of the day, media outlets are looking to attract viewers and drive advertisement sales, and a cautious, on-the-fence perspective is unlikely to do that. Taking a firm stance backed up by strong talking points is the best way to demonstrate that you’re not only a stellar contributor, but one that will make for compelling TV.

“I got bumped for breaking news, and boy, did I let them have it!!”

Burning bridges is never a good idea, but it is especially not wise in the media industry where networking and word of mouth goes a long way. Maintaining positive and cordial relationships, even when things don’t work out, ensures that you won’t be blacklisted for being “that” guest.

“That show is not really big enough for me.”

Everyone starts small, and it’s simply unrealistic to expect that every media booking will be on CNN, Fox, and the like. It’s important to accept media appearances as they come–after all, you never know who could be watching! Plus, producers at small shows will inevitably become producers at bigger shows, and bring their relationships with them.

“Can I just pay you a percentage of my book sales instead?”

PR and sales are separate but complementary functions. Our job is not to sell books, it’s to sell you to the media and raise your profile and credibility to make your prospects want to buy from you. Here’s an analogy a friend in PR used to illustrate the point: you can’t go to the store, collect all the ingredients to make a pie and tell the cashier you’ll be back to pay when your pies sell. You have to pay for the ingredients and then it’s up to you to sell the pies and cover your expenses.

“My wi-fi has been iffy today, but it’ll probably be ok”

A strong wi-fi connection is essential for a successful virtual media appearance. Use a wired Ethernet internet connection, or move closer to the router to ensure your connection doesn’t drop off mid-sentence.

“Tell them I can’t do the interview (on breaking news) today, see if they can move it to next week.”

When a big story breaks, media outlets scramble to find experts that can weigh in on the issue, especially if it dominates the news cycle. Understanding that these breaking news stories do not have a long shelf life is critical if you want to establish yourself as a reliable guest.

“I have a great joke and can’t wait to tell it on air.”

Unless you have been booked specifically to discuss humor, it’s best to leave jokes for a time when you are not on live TV.

And the scariest of all: “Oh, that was today?”

Publicists dread hearing those words–it means their client has forgotten they are supposed to be on air! Failing to show up for a segment not only leaves the media in a lurch, but also seriously hurts your chances of getting invited back.

Landing a media appearance is just the beginning of establishing a strong media presence. Remaining professional, punctual, and considerate increases your chances of appearing on air in the future and makes it that much easier for your publicist to pitch you to other outlets. Avoid these scary phrases and you’re on your way to building the media presence of your dreams!

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