How to best perform when national media calls for an interview

Last week a friend of mine was interviewed on Ashleigh Banfield’s Headline News show Crime & Justice in regard to some technology aspects that could be connected to a crime. Marcel Brown, “the most trusted name in technology,” received a New York call about 2:30 in the afternoon, and since he didn’t recognize the number, he let it go to voice mail. He then looked to read the voicemail and saw that it was a request by CNN. He also received a text message seeking him as an interview client. He returned the call and agreed to be interviewed during their 5pm(central) show. He then quickly alerted his contacts via social media about the interview.

Now I’ll admit that I’ve never watched this crime report show before. I didn’t know what to expect. It became very clear that the host was the ringleader and utilized guests to contribute where needed, but more importantly, lean the direction she was taking the analysis of the crime in question. Boosting each bit of minutia, is necessary for this show to build the drama and be enticing to the viewers. It’s unfortunate they feel they have to go to these extremes, especially when the “breaking news” or “urgent update” isn’t that “breaking” or “urgent.” This is the arena Marcel found himself entering.

The fact that he received this opportunity isn’t the focus of this post. It’s how he handled the interview straightforward, ethical, and level headed.

Ms. Banfield is the quarterback of the show; quickly educating the viewer on what’s known and what’s possible with the latest bit of minutia about the crime in question. Contributors are brought into the ring, actually on air, and hit with rapid fire questions focusing on their singular topic. Opinions and conjecture are not the purpose for them being on the show, these are Ms. Banfield’s purview. For someone not used to being interviewed on national TV on a regular basis, this can be a stressful situation.

The focus of this interview was the data collected and saved from Apple Watches worn by the victim and perpetrator. Ms. Banfield welcomed Marcel to the program and began asking very specific details about the watch and what it could be recording at the time of the crime. He responded with the requested information and the interview continued with this back and forth. Some of the questions were conjecture in nature such as “if the victim was wearing the watch at the time of the crime it should be recording her ascending stairs or having a fast heart rate? Or “Let me just spitball here for a moment….”

Marcel deserves commendation for handling the high pressure of this interview very professionally. While the interviewer wasn’t attacking him, she was intently pursuing a line of questioning toward a “spitball” idea. This required Marcel to quickly respond and hold true to the details about the Apple Watch capabilities. Marcel did not attempt to overstate his position and interject more than what was needed. He was direct, forceful when needed, and stayed focused on the subject. He clarified his points, and corrected inaccuracies spoken by the host. In this stressful situation, he kept a level head.

Overall, he provided value to the topic and contributed to the show.

These are lessons everyone can learn when injected into an uncomfortable situation:

  1. Stay focused – Your job is to answer the questions

  2. Answer the questions directly – be concise

  3. Don’t contribute long winded answers – it’s not a platform for you to overly boast about yourself

  4. Stay truthful at all times by correcting misinterpretations or conjecture – this protects your reputation

Every business person should aim to capitalize on opportunities for national exposure when they arise. To do so, you must be prepared. By keeping these tips in mind, you will set yourself up for success.

Congrats, again, to Marcel for the fine example he set.


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