Why appearing on TV still causes that tummy flutter – even after 15 years in public relations
Friday, February 6th, 2015
When it comes to settling the nerves, PR agency director follows his own media training advice
DON’T stutter…don’t stutter…don’t stutter.
Those were the words I kept repeating to myself ahead of my debut appearance as a guest on The Fountainbridge Show’s ‘What’s Got Edinburgh Talking’ feature.
For anyone appearing on TV – especially live – it can be a nervy experience. Yes, even for someone who has spent 30 years in the media.
Want to see how I got on? Watch the video at the bottom of the page.
You want to give a good account of yourself (especially as a professional in the media sector) and always want to do your best to come across as engaging, confident and knowledgeable.
Of course, there is a need to answer your biggest critics, since family and friends generally love nothing more than the chance to poke fun at any embarrassing gaff or hideous clothes choice.
While I’ve not worked in TV, I did spend 15 years as a journalist and the past 15 years as a public relations expert. All of which means the ability to quickly get to the heart of a story is an ingrained skill.
Likewise, I’ve been interviewed on TV numerous times, counted broadcasters among my close friends, been on the spot too many times to mention while camera crews have been filming – and of course, I’ve been a comforting presence helping to steer many clients through their first TV experiences.
Yet none of that changes the fact that when I am due to appear on live TV, my stomach turns somersaults. Most people are the same.
Among the skills I’ve learned over those long years in the media is how to deliver messages clearly and to think quickly on my feet. It’s this experience that has allowed my Edinburgh public relations agency to offer professional media training among our range of PR services.
So for my slot on STV Edinburgh’s flagship show it really was a case of putting into practice what we preach to our clients. It’s what people in the tech world refer to as “eating our own dog food”.
We’ve delivered our specialist media training to major defence companies, legal firms, politicians and a wide range of other businesses and organisations.
And the number one piece of advice we offer is so simple and well-known it often surprises people: Fail to prepare – then prepare to fail.
Of course, there is a lot more involved in our detailed media training – how to spot pitfalls, how to prepare and memorise key messages, how to deliver them at every opportunity, how to respond in a crisis and how to deal with particularly troubling/troublesome questions.
But so much of success comes down to proper preparation. Nothing will make a nervous TV appearance go more smoothly than knowing your subject material inside out.
Once you have this right, then it’s a case of checking your teeth for any unpleasant stuck food, fixing your hair and holding a neutral expression (after having ensured that someone you trust has stress-checked your wardrobe).
Most people are just like me and will shudder at seeing themselves on TV. Even veterans like Dame Judi Dench never watches herself on TV or on the big screen. Likewise most people will end up dry-mouthed and sweaty-palmed when appearing in front of the cameras.
Since we practice what we preach at our Scottish PR agency, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want to better equip yourself for TV – and we’ll happily share our training on the three P’s: prepare, present, perform to ensure you shouldn’t go too wrong.
Thankfully, the excellent hosts of The Fountainbridge Show – Ewen Cameron and Hayley Matthews as well as the entire production team – are a joy to work with. They realise that this is often an individual’s first taste of TV so they skilfully put anyone at their ease and even make it an enjoyable experience.
It’s this mix of real people, local content and informality that is giving STV Edinburgh – and The Fountainbridge Show in particular – a winning formula; one that is continuing to bring in extremely healthy viewing numbers.
I must have passed the first test as STV Edinburgh have asked me back on for another slot on the What’s Got Edinburgh Talking feature.
But be kind and let me know if you ever see me with spinach stuck in my teeth…
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Raymond Notarangelo, co-founded Scottish PR agency, Holyrood Partnership after spotting a gap for colourful and innovative public relations in Edinburgh. He now leads a team providing media relations, social media, video, photography, brand newsrooms, crisis communication and media relations.View Raymond's Profile
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