My wife and I were soundly asleep in the Sacramento Airport a few weeks ago during a six hour layover. Well, maybe not soundly but at least it was quiet until some lady showed up and decided she needed to facetime on her cell phone at 4:00 am. No kidding. Who does that sort of thing? What did she possibly have to say at that hour that was so important? Most of us understand that interruptions, change, frustration, disappointment and the unexpected are part of daily life. We just hope it is after we have our first cup of coffee in the morning.
We plan for vacations, college, retirement, and almost everything else in life but sometimes our plans don’t go the way we want do they? I was half way through graduate school in California when I was sent to the Middle East to manage a radio station. I never saw that one coming. The same may be true for your media interviews. You may be blindsided by a question, a show may preempt you for something or someone else, forget to call you or you might get sick beforehand. Whatever it is, the more you accept the possibilities and go with the flow, so to speak, the better. In nearly thirty years of booking shows and doing shows here are a few of the recurring themes that can trip you up.
- What should I do if a show doesn’t call when they are supposed to? The answer is simple, give it a couple minutes and then call them. Most publicists provide backup or studio numbers for you to call.
- What should I do if the host doesn’t ask me where listeners or viewers can find my book? Be prepared to weave it into the conversation if the host fails to ask. It is perfectly okay to let listeners know where they can find you or your product. It is not okay to come off sounding like an infomercial. Use discretion.
- What should I do if the host asks me a question that has nothing to do with my subject? Use the same approach you would if you met a mountain lion on the trail. Back-away-slowly. Use deflection to get back on topic.
- What should I do if the host hasn’t read my book? Most hosts will not read your book. They will peruse it, look at the Table of Contents, back cover copy, and scan the media materials provided by your publicist. Most, but not all, will use questions prepared as part of your media kit.
- What should I do if I forget about a scheduled interview? Apologize. Call the host or producer and take responsibility for the mess up. If it is live radio, this puts a producer or host in a tough spot. If it is a pre-recorded interview, ask if you can reschedule.
- What should I do if there are technical difficulties? If you are doing an interview on a cell phone, be sure it is fully charged before your interview. If there is a poor connection or an echo, hang up and call back (or have the station call you back). If the station equipment is down, they will reschedule. It is always ideal to do interviews on a landline but these are going the way of the dinosaur.
As much as we had hoped to get a bit more sleep on those airport benches in Sacramento it didn’t take long for reality to set in and change our plans. Hope for the best but expect that the worst can and does happen – in airports and on media interviews.