Every industry has its own jargon and media is no different. If you’re planning to do media interviews, these terms will come up, so I thought this might be a good time to prepare you for the jargon that you will likely hear. Better to learn them now than to ask a producer, “What do you mean by that?”
Some common media terms to become familiar with and embrace
You may already know this one if you’ve worked with me before or if you’ve done some work with the media. The “press kit” or “media kit” contains the written materials pertinent to your book, and even more importantly, pertinent to the interview you’ll be doing. It may contain a book release, bio, interview questions, interview topics, headshots, book covers, a backgrounder, links to previous interviews or features, and any other pieces that will explain what your book is about. Being able to share these items digitally is essential now, and I suggest creating an appropriate place for them on your website too. Believe it or not, hard copies of your materials are still sometimes requested with books to be mailed, although many publicists just mail books now without the materials. I suggest, at a minimum, you send a cover letter with your pitch and contact information so the media person knows it’s from you. Even if you just spoke two days ago and you think it must be fresh in his or her mind, it isn’t, so don’t make them have to work just to figure out who you are. Also, keep in mind a press kit is not a sales kit. They want to see factual data, not slick sales materials.
These are bullet points, discussion points, or topics that you are going to address in an interview. Interviewers may also ask you for bullet points of what you’re going to incorporate into your answers during an interview. Make sure you have a list of these things handy beside you and memorize them. Your key messages are everything when it comes to successfully doing interviews.
Off the Record:
I know you’ve heard this phrase before, but my advice is to completely eradicate it from your vocabulary and thought processes. There is no such thing, so don’t say anything that you don’t want to see in the news or going viral on social media. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some wonderful journalists who can keep a confidence, there are, but this is no time to test their ethics. You need to stay in the driver’s seat and watch what you say.
Remote Interview or Live Shot:
This has been very common over this past year during Covid when people were not coming into studios. In fact, hosts of shows were live from their own homes. But basically, a remote interview is when the interviewer is in a different location than the interviewee. They can be conducted via Skype, Zoom, or other video conferencing software applications and systems. When things open up a bit more, it’s also possible you may be asked to go to a studio to shoot a remote interview with an interviewer that is located elsewhere. I had a client in a studio in Los Angeles for an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN in New York, so there are different possibilities for remote interviews.
This is the microphone that is at the end of a boom pole and captures the sound near the action. I use this type of mic in my own home studio with the boom pole attached to the side of the desk. You can’t beat the high-quality sound that boom mics produce, which is necessary for some top-tier, high-quality shows.
Lapel or Lavalier Mic:
Whether at home or when we’re back in-studio, a lapel mic or lavalier mic will be clipped onto your clothing. The “mic pack” will also be clipped to your clothing, somewhere where it will not be seen, such as the back of your belt, or even inside a dress or shirt. Consider this when choosing your clothing for an interview. For women, a dress is not advisable. It’s embarrassing when the sound guy or gal has to position that mic correctly.
This is the electronic pack that transfers the signal from a lapel mic to the camera or soundboard.
Whether streaming from a home office or conducting a photo shoot in a studio, the best green screen backdrop can eliminate unsightly objects and scenery. A green screen can also be used to superimpose special effects and scenery during editing.
Chyron (pronounced ˈkīrän):
The graphics or words that appear at the bottom of a TV screen. Often when you’re doing an interview, your name and the title of your book will be there during at least part of the interview.
This is the text that “crawls” along the bottom of a TV screen during an interview or news segment. Sometimes it pertains to the current interview, but often it is unrelated to what is on the screen and actually features other news flashes. News networks and cable outlets are fond of using this.
Where there is more than one camera being used, a-roll is the footage shot by the primary camera.
This is background footage that runs underneath a voice-over that a news reporter or an interview host is doing. Sometimes TV news crews will shoot b-roll, and sometimes the producer will ask you or your publicist to supply b-roll. Don’t be taken by surprise. When you’re doing an on-camera interview, talking heads do not make for a great show, so b-roll fills a wonderful purpose. The time to think about it and get it produced is now before you actually land the interview — unless you like that kind of pressure.
Stills are simply photographs, as in “still images”, as opposed to “moving images”. Print media outlets will often ask for still photographs that can support the story being written, but everyone is multi-media now. Radio and TV producers might also ask for stills to be used in producing their stories, which can then be added to their websites along with print, video, or a podcast (audio file).
As you venture out to do more media interviews, you will come across as much more polished and professional when you can respond to a producer’s questions directly rather than saying, “Huh?” I see that as part of my job, to make you look like the savvy pro that you are.
To your success!
P.S. This list above is only the beginning. If you want to become a pro at doing interviews, join me in a Media Strategy Session to make sure you’re on the right track.
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