live interviews: live by the tip sheet

In all of the back and forth behind the scenes planning a live TV or radio interview, it might feel like you could write a novel with all of the info that’s been shared.

But no matter how much info you’ve given a producer, you have to remember that you (or your client) won’t be the only person they’re talking to that day.

A solid tip sheet can save you for a number of reasons:

1. Use the tip sheet to provide key facts (dates, times, locations, etc.) . . . anything critical that should be communicated in the course of the interview. Remember, these producers/bookers might deal with several interview subjects in the course of one show. Their world doesn’t revolve around the fact that your circus is in town or your client’s hosting a book signing. If you want them to get the details straight: write them down.

2. The tip sheet is the perfect way to reinforce key messages. I can’t tell you how many times an interviewer reads straight from my tip sheet on a live remote shot, during live radio sports or on live morning news.  They don’t have the time to memorize everything about you and they appreciate having quick, easy background in-hand. Instead of, “So tell me about your film festival,” with the right info literally at their fingertips, that same question could sound like, “I understand San Diego Film Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this weekend.  Besides the signature Actor’s Ball, the celebrity sightings, what else can people expect to see at the Pacific Gaslamp Theater?”

3. Everyone looks good. A tip sheet helps the interviewer better prepare for a segment and gives them quick, easy info to reference on the spot. It helps the producer look like a rock star by prepping the interviewer and the interviewee knows exactly what info has been shared and what’s likely to come up during the interview.

Every tip sheet is different, but here are some key things you don’t want to miss:

1. Single page, minimum 14pt font, use bullets and spacing to keep it clean, simple and easy to read from a quick glance.

2. Include all critical info: names of people involved, dates, locations, websites, ticket prices, etc.

3. Key messages: a few succinct key messages that position your client, product, event, service (etc.) exactly how you’d say it if you could write the news yourself.

Make sure the tip sheet is emailed in advance so everyone has a chance to review it, but always bring an extra copy or two.

I’ve had several interviews where a producer and anchor didn’t get a chance to brief and the anchor runs up to my client right before a segment to get a quick download. If you have a tip sheet on hand, you’ll be their best friend.

Bottom line: be over prepared.



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