Radio & TV Interview Skills

13 Reasons to sign up for Soulful PR Starters

If you’d like to get featured in newspapers, magazines and on radio & TV, but don’t have the budget to hire a PR firm, there’s no reason why you can’t DIY. But if you don’t have much experience of the media, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Investing in online training can be the quickest way to get up to speed. But enrolling in an online course is a big decision. Not only is there the cost of the course to consider, you also need to think about the time taken away from your business.

With that in mind, here’s 13 reasons to enrol in Soulful PR for Starters.

1. You’ll get a tried and tested course that definitely gets results

Check out this video of Sally Bunkham talking about her experience with the Soulful PR for Starters course...


2. You’ll get everything you need in one place (in the right order)

There’s tons of free content online (including on my own blog and podcast) but searching for it - and identifying reliable sources - takes time. Invest in a course like Soulful PR for Starters and you’ll get everything you need in one place, with all the steps you need to take, in exactly the right order. And it’s yours to keep forever.

3. You can learn at your own pace

Enrol for Soulful PR for Starters and you’ll be sent a weekly video lesson and tasks to complete (over an eight week period which includes a reading week in the middle). This means your coursework can be completed when it’s convenient and fitted around your work and life. While you’ll get more out of the course if you work through the materials as they are released (not least because you’ll be able to discuss them with me and the other students in our dedicated Facebook group), if you fall behind, you can simply catch up when it’s convenient. You’ll get lifetime access to the course materials - and all the live content e.g. Q & A calls will be recorded - so there’s no rush.

The learning materials for Soulful PR for Starters are yours to keep, so you can work through them at your own pace and refer back to them at any time

4. You’ll learn what journalists are interested in (from someone who actually knows)

There are plenty of people out there who claim to be PR experts - some of whom have never actually spent time working in a newspaper or magazine office or on a TV/radio show. I’ve spent the last 16 years writing for national newspapers and magazines - and trained hundreds of people to appear on radio/TV - so I know what journalists are looking for and, crucially, what they’re not. So I’ll teach you strategies that actually get you results, so you don’t waste time writing press releases or sending emails to journalists about things they won’t be interested in.

5. You’ll get insider tips on how to find journalists’ contact details - quick

Confused about the difference between a reporter and an editor? A TV producer and a researcher? You’ll learn about the different roles and responsibilities on magazines, newspaper, radio or TV - so you can find exactly the right person to get your ideas in front of - quick. I’ll also share my best hacks on finding journalists’ email addresses and phone numbers - quick.

6. You’ll learn the best way to set out a pitch or press release for a journalist

Not sure how to set out a press release or what to include in an email to a journalist? You’ll learn exactly what information they need from you (and what you can leave out). And you'll get cheat sheets and templates to help you write them fast. 

I’ll also share insider tips on how to increase the chances of getting your email opened, including how to write engaging headlines and email subject headers. You’ll also learn about the best days and times to send your pitches and press releases. 

You'll get cheat sheets and templates to help you write pitches and press releases - fast

7. You’ll find out what to do if a journalist ignores your pitch or press release

You’ll learn exactly how many pitches and press releases journalists get each day and what it might mean if yours gets ignored (and what to do about it). You’ll also learn whether you should chase them up, how long you should leave it before you do and the best ways to go about it (i.e. phone/email).

8. You’ll learn how to help journalists find you (so you don’t don’t have to do all the work)

You’ll learn how to optimise your social media profiles and make effective use of social media so journalists can find you more easily (and you don’t have to do all the legwork). I’ll also share tons of free tools and apps you can use to connect with journalists who are already looking for help with stories - saving you time and money.

9. You’ll get access to exclusive interviews with high-profile journalists

Join Soulful PR for Starters and you’ll get access to exclusive interviews with editors from Marie Claire, Grazia magazine and the Huffington Post - in which they share their tips on what they’re looking for in a story and the best ways to get their attention.

If you sign up to Soulful PR for Starters you'll get personal support from me - both on our live coaching calls and in our private Facebook group

10. You’ll get personal support from me

I’ve signed up to tons of online courses, where the teacher is ‘all in’ on the marketing...then disappears the minute the course starts.

Enrol for Soulful PR for Starters and you won’t be left to your own devices. I’ll be in the private Facebook group every single day answering your questions. You’ll also get the opportunity to attend two live Q & A calls with me and the other students, where you can ask questions and get personal feedback on your pitches.

11. You’ll get honest feedback

I won’t pull any punches. If your ideas are not newsworthy - or I think you’re spending time on something that won’t get you results - I’ll tell you straight, so you don’t waste time on pointless PR activities.

12. You’ll get to learn all of this and more with like-minded souls

Learning with like-minded people is good for you. Not only will you come away from the course with new skills, you’ll also meet people you may want to collaborate with in the future and make new friends.

13. You’ll get help implementing what you’ve learned

One of the frustrating things about online courses can be the lack of follow-up support. That’s why I’ll be holding a live calls for Soulful PR for Starters students so you can check in with me and ask any questions you have. The Facebook group will also remain open so you can keep in touch with me and your fellow students.

Interested? You can find out more and enrol here.


How to get radio & TV coverage for your business

Securing radio and TV appearances can be a great way to get exposure for your business or brand. But what kind of stories are broadcast journalists interested in covering? And what’s the best way to pitch an idea? Here’s some tips to get you started…

Do your research

Radio & TV producers receive hundreds of emails every day. So before you pick up the phone to talk to a producer or fire off an email pitch, do your homework on the programme or ‘slot’ you’re pitching to. Is there a regular format? Who do you think is the audience? What kind of stories do they usually run? If you haven’t watched or listened the programme you’re pitching to - or at least tried to find out the answers these questions - your idea is unlikely to hit the spot.

Find the right person to pitch to

Next, find out the name of the person who can make a decision about whether to run your story. This is usually the producer or editor but, depending on how the team is organised, it could also be a journalist or researcher.

A quick search on Google, Twitter or LinkedIn should throw up some names, but it’s generally quicker (and more accurate) to phone and ask.  Just avoid calling at obviously busy times (when the show is on air, for example).

If you get through to the right person, you may be able to pitch your idea over the phone, but do have an email pitch ready to send, as even if they like your idea, they'll probably ask you to email over the details. 

Your email pitch should outline your idea in a few paragraphs and have a compelling email subject header (that makes it clear exactly what your story is and doesn’t try to be clever or obscure).

Bear in mind that most journalists get hundreds of emails and press releases every day (many of which are deleted, unopened), so a compelling email subject header is far more likely to get their attention.

Remember timing is everything

While some stories make it into the press simply because they’re interesting or unusual, many are ‘hooked’ onto other events e.g. new reports, anniversaries or awareness daysSo when you pitch an idea to a journalist. they’ll be thinking: ‘Why do people need to hear about this now?’

But having a good (& timely) idea isn’t enough; if you don’t give journalists enough time to put the story together, you could miss out on coverage.

That’s why it’s vital to know the lead times (that is the time between the producer deciding on the content and it being aired) for the programme or ‘slot’ you’re pitching to.

On a daily news programme, where lead times tend to be shorter, you can pitch on the day a programme is broadcast (or a day or two ahead) but on more feature-led shows, items might be commissioned days, weeks – or even months – in advance.

Be upfront

Do bear in mind that programme makers are in competition with one other for stories - sometimes even on the same radio or TV station. So while general press releases are usually ok, if you pitch a more indepth story or feature to several programmes (without being upfront about what you’re doing) you could make yourself very unpopular.

That said, it’s not always practical - particularly if your story is timely - to wait for every journalist or producer to come back to you with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If this is the case, say you’ll leave your idea with them for a certain number of days (or even hours) in your email pitch. This way, if they come back to you with a ‘yes’ and you’ve placed it elsewhere, no one can say you were underhand.

Think visually (even for radio)

Whether you’re pitching an idea for a prime time news slot or a daytime chat show, it’s important to describe to the producer what they will be able to see and hear.

I’m a regular newspaper reviewer on my local radio station and the guests I meet in the green room are a great example of this. I’ve taken part in a ‘clubbercise’ exercise class, a weightlifting session (see pic below), mixed non-alcoholic cocktails and tried olives from a local vineyard (the owner had brought them, along with hummus and homemade bread for the presenters to try on air).

At the same time, be aware that there’s a difference between offering great content that allows you to show what you do and plugging your business. For example, the non-alcoholic cocktail maker was from a  local restaurant (which got quite a few mentions in the piece) but the story was actually about not drinking and driving at Christmas and featured other experts - including a guy with a drink driving simulator game.

If journalists think you’re just trying to plug your business, they won’t want to run your story.


Be proactive

Radio and TV producers are always looking for experts and ‘talking heads.’ So if you have specific expertise, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and introduce yourself. As ever, timing is everything, so do call when you know there will be opportunities coming up. So if you’re a financial expert, it can be a good idea to call up a few days before a government spending review, for example. An education expert might do the same just before exam results are published. A health & fitness expert might get in touch just before New Year when people are often making health changes.

And do remember that producers and journalists frequently search online for experts to appear on their programmes. So make sure your website, social media profiles (and, in particular, your LinkedIn page) are up-to-date, with good quality photographs and examples of you in action, if possible. Contributing to online publications or writing a blog can be a good way to ensure you’re found more easily.

And don’t promise what you can’t deliver. If you’re pitching an idea for the breakfast or ‘drivetime’ slot, you must be available to do an interview at that time.

Want to find out more? Get my FREE cheat sheet on how to do great media interviews

7 must-do tips for media interviews

7 must-do tips for media interviews-2

1.  Do your research

Giving an interview on the radio or TV can be nerve wracking - particularly if you don’t have much experience of the media. That’s why it’s vital to have as much information as possible about why you’ve been asked to give the interview and what will happen before, during and afterwards.

Ask these questions before you agree to an interview, and you shouldn’t go far wrong:

‘Why are you doing this story now?’

Journalists often talk about the ‘hook’ or ‘peg’ for a story i.e. the reason why they want to cover a particular story at a particular time. Knowing why a producer wants to cover a story will help you decide whether it’s something you feel comfortable talking about.

'Who will the interviewer be?'

This can give you a chance to research their interviewing style, which can be helpful for your preparation. A word of caution though: the fast-paced nature of the media means things can change, without warning, so be prepared for anything.

'Who will I be on with?' 

Radio and TV aims to entertain as well as inform. Essentially it’s showbiz.  So it’s common practice - even on the most serious news programmes - for producers to line up interviewees with opposing views. Knowing who you’ll be up against can help you prepare more effectively - or even make a decision about whether you’ll give an interview at all.

'What’s coming before and after me?'

Knowing if there’s a ‘set up piece’ (a pre-recorded feature/interview) can help you get a feel for how a producer intends to cover a story. If there is one, don’t be shy about asking to see/hear it (although do be aware this may be impractical due to timing).

'How long will I be on for?'

This will give you an idea of how much material to prepare (although see number 2).

2. Prepare with care

Preparation is always a good thing, but be aware that most media interviews only last a few minutes. If you have too much stuff whizzing around your head, you may find it more difficult to concentrate on and answer the questions.

You can spot over-prepared interviewees a mile off; they usually talk too fast and often ‘vomit’ information rather than answering the questions put to them.

Keep it simple; prepare lots but have just one 'take away' point and try and get it in as early as possible.

3.  Avoid big words

When you’re giving an interview, it’s tempting to speak ultra formally or slip into professional jargon - both of which can alienate your audience. While it can feel like you’re giving a presentation or a speech, remember you’re actually talking to the interviewer. And your audience is people doing mundane things like having coffee and toast at the kitchen table, driving to work or doing the ironing. So if you want to keep them engaged, you need to use simple, everyday language and not assume knowledge on their part.

People who work in education are prone to use phrases like ‘programme delivery’ or ‘widening participation’ - but the majority of people have no idea what they’re talking about. I was recently delivering media training to a membership organisation where one of the participants kept using the word ‘infrastructure’ - which can mean different things to different people in different industries (he meant it in the context of rail, road and air). When he stopped talking about infrastructure and started talking about trains, cars and planes, he immediately became more interesting and relevant.

For more on how the language you use impacts on people, read this: why using big words can make you look stupid. 

 4.  Be visual - even for radio

I’m a regular newspaper reviewer on Radio Kent. Just before Christmas I was invited to stick around after my spot to taste some non-alcoholic cocktails being made live on the show by the bar manager from a local hotel.  Aside from a clinking a bit of ice in a glass (and the presenter describing what the bar manager was doing) it wasn’t easy to convey to the listeners what was going on in the studio. But when the presenter tried the cocktail, the bar manager said to him ‘I can see by the look on your face that you really enjoyed that’ - which instantly made it visual.

Another time, I was delivering media training to an organisation that works closely with university technical colleges (schools that specialise in vocational education) and their people were struggling to explain exactly what they did. So I asked ‘If I came into one of your schools, what would I see that was different to others?’ ‘You’d see a group of teenagers milking a cow,’ said one. ‘You’d see a group of girls taking apart the engine of a car,' added another.

Instantly more engaging.

The moral of those stories is: ‘show, don’t tell’. Instead of telling people about your project or initiative, show them through lively, visual examples and you’re far more likely to keep your audience engaged.

For more tips on giving interviews on radio and TV, read: How to shine in media interviews

 5.  Beware of repeating negatives

If you’re asked a question about something negative, it’s easy to fall into the trap of repeating the very word or phrase you’d rather not talk about. I've heard people being asked: ‘Is there a drugs problem at your school?’ Their reply? ‘No we haven’t got a drugs problem at our school. I mean, we have had drugs problems in the past, but I can safely say that since we introduced our new drugs policy, there have been no problems with drugs at our school….’ 

See how easily it can happen? Use the technique outlined in number 6 to help you avoid this.

6.  Acknowledge difficult questions...but move things on quickly

Politicians are brilliant at this. They acknowledge the question, saying something like ‘well that’s a really interesting point’ or ‘Yes I have heard that said' before moving the conversation on using a ‘bridging’ phrase like ‘but what I’m really here to talk about it is…’ or ‘but I think the issue we really need to address is...’

It’s important to use words and phrases that feel comfortable to you (see number 7) but this can be a really effective way to take and keep control of an interview.

7.  Be yourself

Never forget that radio and TV is showbiz - and like it or not - interviewees are characters in the show. In fact, producers often talking about ‘casting’ rather than booking appearances. So resist the temptation to tone down your accent, personality or anything else that makes you uniquely you. That said, appearances do matter - particularly for TV - and smart (at least the smartest version of you) usually works best.

Interested in booking media training for your team? Find out more here and in the video below.