Five tips for Skype media interview success

Posted on 07/12/2011


During coverage of the Eurozone crisis, the British rolling news channels started turning to Skype to drive live interviews with experts across the continent.

This was just part of a growing trend which really took off during the Arab Spring and Skype interviews with protesters.

In fact, the BBC recently revealed that anywhere with 3G coverage will be good enough to take live streams from. And with news breaking around the world, reduced news budgets, fewer overseas bureaux and even more air time to fill, Skype interviews could become more common on our screens.

So are PR’s prepared?

Media training will often include a ‘down the line’ mock up, where spokespeople pretend they are in one of the remote studios (such as Millbank, Edinburgh, Leeds, etc) with questions fed into an ear piece and answers given direct to camera.

It’s actually one of the trickiest types of interview to do, as your eyes naturally roll toward the ear piece – the source of the sound – and the spokesperson has to talk into a pane of glass.

But if Skype interviews continue to take off, more of any media training session will need to focus on this discipline.

Forbes magazine has recently published 4 tips on Skype (job) interview success. I’d go further and say that for Skype media interviews, there are five tips, and in a slightly different order:

  1. Look out for the details – make sure you’re plugged in, that your wifi is fine and that the media have a mobile number, caption details and high-res picture of you. And make sure your Skype profile matches your professional bio – and that your ID isn’t ‘bingedrinker74’ or ‘hotinthecity’, etc!
  2. Watch what you wear – keep it smart, but plain. Avoid stripes, patterns and Pat-Butcher ear-rings. Due to camera quality on Skype, even more than on ‘down the line’ interviews, plain is best.
  3. Mind the backdrop – if you’re Skyping from home, lock away the dog / kids, switch off system sounds from your computer and turn off any other media. If you’re in an office, go to a meeting room. Keep a distance between you and the camera – making it look more professional than a ‘close up’ (invest in a lapel microphone and ear piece if you’re doing this a lot). And watch out for the background shot. Reduce clutter – such as pictures. And double check your surroundings – having Jeremy Clarkson’s collected works in view on your bookshelf probably isn’t a good idea.
  4. Decide what to say – just because this is Skype, doesn’t mean you can forget all your messaging. In fact, because your connection may drop out, get your key messages in early.
  5. Maintain eye contact – tricky one, but US experts, recommend maintaining eye contact with your camera (different from your screen if using an inbuilt camera) as you would with a normal human being.

With these tips – and proper practice with media trainers, Skype could open up a whole range of possibilities for spokesperson interviews.