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PR 365...The Art of the Interview Request

Posted Jan 01 2010 7:59am

If you're a popular mom blogger, parenting expert or an author, you will most likely find yourself in a position where reporters and even TV producers might be interested in featuring you in a segment or news story. However, before you agree to share your story, I wanted to talk about the interviews you should stay away from at all costs. You see, not every interview request is reason for you to get your name out there. Some publicists will argue that any publicity is good publicity but I beg to differ. If you have an image you want to protect or if you value your time, then you should evaluate each and every opportunity and wait for the one that will bring out the best in you.

So let's take a few scenarios into account. If you many of you are subscribing to Peter Shankman's HARO (Help A Reporter Out) you will see a treasure trove of opportunities each day. But some of those queries are down right dangerous. I'm not going to out some of the offenders, but here are some tried and true tips to avoid the wolves in sheeps clothing.

Query: Looking for a family who has been hit hard by the economy - experienced a job loss, home foreclosed upon and is in dire straits. If you fit that profile, we want to feature you national television.
Response: Okay, you may be just that person. You have bills mounting, you're out of a job and you think, hey if I go on TV, maybe I'll find a job and maybe someone will help me out of this mess. Unless the TV outlet is Dr. Phil or Oprah, our advice is be careful. Any other news or talk show will just want to share your tale of woe offer you some empty advice and then send you on your merry way. And all you're left with is a clip of you talking about being in a really bad situation. Resist the urge and do not offer yourself up for this opportunity.

Query: I'm doing a story on the merits of mom blogging - especially want to talk to a mom blogger who does product reviews and gets paid for them.
Response: If you are getting paid to review products on your blog, please cease and desist - it is completely unethical to get paid to write a product review unless you specify clearly on your blog that the content is sponsored. Just as journalists don't get paid to write reviews, the same goes for your blog. And if someone sends you an Amazon gift card to post a review, then that's not acceptable either. Before you agree to an interview think about whether participating will help you or hurt you.

Query: Doing an investigative story on moms who work from home. - looking for a work at home mom willing to share their story on national television.
Response: Again - investigative story should tip you off. They are looking to feature two sides of the story. So that means that even though your story may be positive, the show may really be interested in hearing about people who have been scammed by work at home job leads. Talk shows look for conflict - if you're story is completely positive, then it might be a bit boring for them. However, if you were scammed, got out of the situation and then made a mint by taking the high road, more power to you. Bottom line - stay away from investigative reports!

Query: Looking for moms to sit in our audience to ask questions of our medical expert.
Response: If you have plenty of time on your hands, then feel free to respond and attend every talk show in New York City. However, if you think this will be your chance to make your mark on a talk show, think again. Being an audience member will not land you a big break, it'll just cost you about three hours of your time. Of course, there are talk shows that are fun to attend, like Rachel Ray, Regis & Kelly and Martha Stewart - so if you do get the chance to attend one of those shows, then definitely go - it's a fun experience.

For more media tips, visit our new column, PR 365.

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