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What to wear on TV

green screen

We’re often asked for advice on what to wear on TV or in a video.  Whilst you might spend hours agonising over your look, it’s really best for you to keep it simple.  If you’re wearing something distracting, then that’s all your viewers will remember.  After all, you want your viewers focussing on what you say, not on your clothes.   The other thing to remember is that you should wear something that makes you feel comfortable. It’s probably not a great idea to rush out and buy a whole new outfit especially for your camera appearance! You’ll feel more relaxed if you know that everything fits and sits properly.  If your shoes hurt or if your jacket is too tight – then your body language on camera will be all wrong!

So how do you avoid ending up on the cutting room floor? Here are some clothes that you should definitely avoid when appearing on camera:

moire pattern

1. Small, complex patterns can strobe on camera.  Avoid thin stripes, herringbones and polka dots.   For men, avoid shirts with a thin stripe or ties with a small pattern.

2. Avoid shiny fabrics that reflect light back into the camera.

3. For the ladies – jewellery that rattles and clinks can be distracting for the viewer  as your clip-on microphone will pick up those sounds.

4. For a media interview avoid emblems, logos and badges on your clothing, unless it’s your company uniform. Your interviewer may ask you to remove them or cover them up.

5. If you’re appearing against a green screen, then green clothing will blend into the background. If you’re headed for the TV studio and you’re not sure of the setup, avoid green jackets, shorts and blouses.

 

Here are some suggestions to keep you looking cool in the hot seat:

1. Wear natural fabrics like cotton in studio.  Studio lights can be hot, and you’ll be more relaxed if you’re not feeling overheated.

2. If you’re wearing trousers, wear socks that reach over your calf, so that your skin doesn’t show when you cross your legs when seated.

3. Solid colours are always a safe bet – pastels, blue and dark blue work well.

4. If you have long hair, tying it back will keep it off your face and avoid shadows.

5. Last of all – make-up keeps off glare, even for men :-).  Even if you’re not accustomed to make-up, it’s a good idea to bring some powder with you.  You can’t assume that  a make-up artist will be available if you’re making a studio visit, so bring your own.

And if you’re not headed for the TV studio, very often your interviewer will want to speak with you on location.  Maybe they’ll want to see you on the factory floor, or outside your place of work. Well, please don’t forget to dress for the weather.  You’ll often spend a lot longer standing around waiting that you anticipated, and your interview will be a lot more natural if you’re not soaked through or frozen with the cold!

And when you’ve done all that, remember to relax and smile! Not only will it help you to build rapport with your viewers, but research shows that smiling during brief periods of stress can help you to feel less stressed out (1). That’s got to be a win-win for your next appearance on camera!

 

(1) Kraft & Pressman (2012) Grin and bear it: the influence of manipulated facial expression on the stress response. Journal of Psychological Science

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Develop public opinion through the media

public opinion

As we’ve all seen, public understanding of an issue develops over time, often slowly, and in several stages. Compelling messaging will help you to connect with key audiences to shape public opinion on the cause that you work for and believe in.

public

But what does your audience know about your cause in the first place? We’ve adapted the Seven Stages of Public Opinion model (1) to give you some ideas for your next public campaign.

Dawning awareness

Are you raising an issue that no-one has heard of? Something that has not yet reached the public consciousness? To make your issue resonate with journalists and their audiences, it’s key that your message at this stage is simple, core and compact(2). Avoid the curse of knowledge and take the time to disseminate information to build public awareness.

Sense of urgency

This is when people realise that there is an issue and they start to develop an opinion on it. Making your message concrete can really help. In the business world, consider the case of Irish company, Sugru, developers of mouldable glue that turns into rubber. Apart from a small community of designers or makers, who cares, or even understands why they would want mouldable glue? Realising they were destined to remain a niche product if they failed to take action, Sugru made this video. Here they position their product for everyone – it’s a helping hand to fix annoying everyday problems that we all experience.

Discovering choices

This is when public opinion has started to develop. People listen to other points of view and now start to evaluate the choices that they can make around your issue. Think about case studies and stories to help you connect with your audiences. By the time people reach this stage, they’re clarifying their thinking, talking to their friends and starting to understand more fully what supporting you means to them. If they give up time or resource, what do they get in return? In our workshops, we’ll give you structures to help you to develop a persuasive argument.

Accepting an idea

People are more ready to commit to an idea in their minds than in the actions they take. You could ask people to do something public, such as ‘Like a Facebook page’, ‘Share a post’ helps them to commit to a point of view. Once people have made a choice or adopted a position, they’ll want to behave consistently with that position (3). The Rainforest Alliance followed up the viral buzz from their Follow the Frog video with action-led social campaigns with partners to help consumers commit to buying Fairtrade.

Making a responsible judgment

This is where you move people to the stage where they will take an action – Vote! Buy! Do something differently! Public opinion has been developed. Believe in what you do, and make sure your message resonates with the audiences you need to reach.

1) Yankelovich, D. (1992) How public opinion really works. New York: Fortune. Available from: http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1992/10/05/76926/index.htm

2) Heath, D. & Heath, C. (2007) Made to stick New York: Random House

3) Fazio, R. H, Blascovich, J. & O’Driscoll, D.M. (1992) On the Functional Value of Attitudes: The Influence of Accessible Attitudes on the Ease and Quality of Decision Making. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 388-401

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Pitching the media for research impact

research impact Sarah Travers TV interview

UK Universities spend a lot of time and energy making sure that their research has positive benefits on society and their communities. Research impact matters to university researchers, so public engagement is important. If you’re a researcher working at a UK university and want your research to help shape public opinion, what can you do?

In our work, we’ve developed media engagement strategies to connect organisations with external audiences in everything they do. Along the way, we’ve learnt a few lessons about what works and what falls flat when you’re pitching your stories to busy journalists. Media engagement can be a pathway to research impact, so it’s an important tool in your arsenal. Here are five simple considerations to underpin your media engagement strategy:

Audiences

1. Identify the key audiences for your story. Who does your research benefit and what media outlets are they likely to use for their news? Consider a blend of local, regional and national newspapers and radio stations, regional TV news or national TV news and of course social media channels. Research impact begins and ends with the beneficiaries.

Media channels

2. Research your selected media channels and identify the journalists and correspondents interested in your subject area. Don’t worry about getting in touch.  Journalists are always on the lookout for good stories, and will probably be glad to get to know you. Your Communications Office can help you here – they’ve worked hard to build up relationships that can help you build a profile for your research.

Social media

3. No media engagement strategy would be complete without a social media plan. Will your key audiences be on Facebook? If your research appeals to a business audience, LinkedIn is an important channel. Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram can be used to appeal to different audiences as well. Twitter might be appropriate to reach policymakers and business leaders. And don’t forget, Twitter is a super tool for reaching out to journalists!

Keep it simple!

4. When writing your media releases or conducting an interview, try to avoid jargon. Every discipline builds up its own vocabulary but specialised language only creates a barrier between you and your audience. Journalists will retell your story for their readers or viewers, so make that easier for them by creating a concise, easily understood narrative. Remember Einstein’s dictum “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Collaborate

5. And don’t forget about the power of collaboration. Research impact in a mutually productive relationship can only help everyone. Liaise with your research partners to identify contacts and relationship they might have to pick up on your story and increase its reach. Make sure that they know in advance if you’re planning a media campaign – that way everyone can play their part to make sure your hard work finds a ready audience! Any coverage you achieve will raise awareness of their work, so everyone’s a winner. #giversgain

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Nine questions for a successful media interview

Sarah Travers media interview

So you’ve been promoting your story on social media, sending out press releases, getting in touch with journalists and doing everything you can to make sure your organisation’s message is heard in the media. You really want to secure a media interview for your story. You have no budget for a PR agency, and you’re happy to take the task on yourself. You’ve just awarded yourself ‘top PR’ in your own mind and nipped out for a coffee to tell your friend in the next building all about your hard work. And when you get back to your desk, you have a message to return a journalist’s call – they want an interview. Props to you!! So what do you do next?

Here’s a list of nine questions to ask the journalist to help you prepare:

 

  1. Collect the basics – name, news organisation, tel contact, Twitter handle
  2. Tell me more about the story you’re working on. Are you approaching the story from any perspective?
  3. Who else are you interviewing?
  4. What’s the format – print, TV, radio, live, over the phone?
  5. What exactly do you need from me?
  6. What journalist will be conducting the interview?
  7. How long will the interview take?
  8. Do you have a deadline? Respect this! Journalists are under huge pressure to meet deadlines, help them out.
  9. Spell your name and organisation name – preferably email it!

When you’re working up your next campaign, careful preparation gives your media interview a greater chance of success. Print off this list to prepare your messaging for an interview that’s more interesting for the viewer, more helpful for the journalist and helps to promote your organisation better.