Being a guest on live TV is thrilling, fun, and a great way to get you and your brand out there. If you’ve never been in a television studio or been interviewed live, it can be scary, too!
Over the past year, I’ve done two live segments on local (Las Vegas) morning shows. I was contacted by a PR company in New York City (more on that later), and I thought, sure why not!? I was broadcasting major in college, I’ve been in TV studios, and worked as a reporter for TV station in Iowa eons ago. So I thought it would be fun to get back on TV even though I’m not the weight I was all those years ago—I had to get over it and trust that people would still relate to me.
And, I was a little rusty. I took a few notes along the way of what I did right, what went wrong and what I did to prepare, in hopes it might help you when you land a live TV interview. I love being live on TV, and always jump at the chance—and I want you to be as excited and prepared for your live TV appearance!
1. You never know who is going to find you.
It’s true what they say: the internet is eternal. Things we post today may not see results for years. That was certainly the case for me when a PR company asked me to do a segment called “Out of the Basket Easter Ideas.” They’d seen my blog—which I hadn’t been posting on regularly for a couple of years—and thought I’d be a good fit. Luckily my lifestyle blog was in pretty good shape. Although it’s not the focus of my business, it’s still an opportunity to get on air, and get in a PR company’s Rolodex.
How is your online presence looking? Make sure your blog and website are visitor-ready at all times. Try my friend Dawn Mena’s tips to keep your website looking its best.
In addition, make sure you have a media kit to give to the producer. Do the work for them and you’ll be a dream guest that they’ll want to have back again.
2. Be your own producer.
News and morning show producers have to be the most organized people on the planet. I have no idea how they do what they do day in and day out. They’re busy; they’re thinking of 1,000 things a minute.
They’ll probably tell you what they want you to know, like what time to show up, but it may not be everything you need to know. So, ask questions. Ask the producer, or call and speak with the station’s receptionist. They usually have the down-low on all the logistics about where to park, how to get in the building, etc.
Here are some of the things you’ll want to know:
- The name of the show
- How much time you have for your interview
- What time you need to be at the station
- What host or anchor will interview you
- When and where the show will air (including replays)
- Social media handles (follow & like them)
- The producer’s cell phone number and the front desk phone number
- If you should bring props; how the set will be set up (e.g., will you be sitting or standing? On chairs or stools?)
Be sure to watch several episodes of the show before your appearance, so you have a feel for the set, the flow of the show, and how the hosts interact with the guests. Some ask a lot of questions and get chatty; others let you do most of the talking.
I’ve put together a checklist for you to track all of this information and more for your live TV appearances. Simply click the graphic below and enter your details and I’ll send it off to you!
3. Bring more than you think you need.
If, like me, you tend to overpack a bit for out-of-town trips, then this should be easy for you. Take along your makeup bag for touch-ups, and bring a small mirror since the restroom could be a hike from the studio. Bring your hair products and a comb or brush. Bring water. Put your lip gloss in your pocket for a quick swipe before you go on air.
The one thing I would definitely take with me again is an assistant! My friend Carol came with me both times, and I’m so thankful she did. An assistant (a friend, your spouse, your brother) can help carry your bags if you have props, helps calm you down, and can take photos and video of you while you’re being interviewed. They can check your clothes and hair and makeup and make sure you’re looking good before you go live.
Seriously, even if you don’t have an assistant in real life, take one with you when you go on TV!
Also bring your printed collateral like business cards and brochures, and if you have a book, bring that, too! Even though my segments weren’t about my gift giving book per se, one of the hosts (that’s Krystal Allen from Wake Up with The CW shown to the right) was so kind to mention it and show it on air. Score! Don’t be shy about talking to the hosts about what you do before your segment is live. Don’t be pushy, just engage in conversation.
4. The cameras don’t look like cameras.
This is something that still surprises me. When we’re on our webcams or iPhones doing video chats, we’re talking to a camera lens. So I always expect to see a lens. But, no, in a TV studio the camera lens is covered by a teleprompter with the script rolling by as the host delivers her lines.
Therefore, it’s hard to know where to look, or what camera is on you at any given moment. (Hint: There’s a red light at the top of the camera. When the light is on, that’s the camera that’s live.) If you’re being interviewed by a host, no problem! Just ignore the camera and look at the host. That will come across the best 99.9 percent of the time.
5. No matter how much you practice, you’ll probably make a mistake. It’s okay.
For both of my live TV segments, I practiced. A lot. I knew the products inside and out, I knew my talking points, I timed everything to the second to fit in the segment.
For my Easter segment, everything went great! But for my Thanksgiving segment, well … let’s just say it didn’t. A product box almost broke when the host picked it up. I spaced on the name of a product! Field Roast Grain Meat Company. Field Roast Grain Meat Company. I said it 1,000 times in my practice sessions, but I just could not remember it! I had to read it off the package. Not professional, but better than getting it completely wrong. It slowed me down and kind of threw me off kilter. Oh well. As one of my friends said, he probably wouldn’t remember his own name if he had to be on TV.
And, wouldn’t you know, seconds after my segment ended, one of the hosts flubbed a line on the teleprompter.
It’s live. It happens. Forgive yourself and be ever thankful that you got the opportunity to build up your media muscle and get your brand out there!
As soon as you get home and wash off your makeup, be sure to send a thank you note to the producer and the host who interviewed you. Share the link to your appearance on all your social media channels, update the media page on your website, and make some notes to yourself for the next time you’re asked to be on TV!
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