Interviews That Don’t Suck

 In Blog

Conventional PPM wisdom says interviews are death. Many shows even have a no interview rule. It’s true that even star interviews often tank in Nielsen. BUT, before you totally scrap interviews from your show plan, let’s do a reality check.

Interviews can hold the meters and score diary recall if you are ruthlessly selective about who gets on the show. Consider this guest filter to help ensure that your guests sound good and you win in ratings.

Guest Filter

The guest has a reputation for being entertaining. Bailey and Southside at Atlanta’s Rock 100.5 knew that comedian Craig Gass is a fun guest. They pretended to interview celebrities on their Super Bowl broadcast last week, but they were all Craig Gass doing impressions. Listeners even went to the station hoping to see Adam Sandler or Tracy Morgan!

The power of story: Great interviews work for the same reason that all A-level content works; captivating stories, humor, drama, and conflict. Make it a show policy that all guests must tell at least one compelling story, more if they’re good storytellers.

  • Every guest that appears on TV talk shows like Ellen, Fallon and Corden tells at least one story. Jimmy Kimmel told me that all non-A list guests must submit two or three stories before their appearance on his show. Then Jimmy and the guest booker choose their best story.
  • Dramatic storytelling is key to making local charity guests work. A cancer survivor’s story can be gripping, while a spokesperson for a fund raiser would likely cause tune-out.

Record interviews whenever possible. Edit down to the highlights, but stop short of clipping it to the point of sounding choppy. Move one of the most provocative questions to the front of the interview to quickly grab the audience’s attention.

  • Nationally syndicated personality Zach Sang interviews top celebrity music artists in his LA studio. He records conversations with stars that can run from 30 minutes to an hour. Zach edits the interview into brief segments for his radio show, and posts the full version on YouTube.
  • What about interviews that come down from sales? Record and edit them, and then decide if it makes the cut. It can be as short as one brief anecdote or commentary. Most spots are :60 seconds, so don’t be afraid to apply that time limit to sales interviews, and run it next to other spots. Avoid replacing content with a commercial interview.

The audience has high interest and familiarity with the guest. You probably don’t want to pass on Beyoncé or Tom Hanks.

One or more players on the show has an interest in the guest. A player might have a dream to meet or interview Tom Brady, for example.

Is the guest willing to be part of the show rather than being highlighted in their own segment? The guest could participate in one of the show’s benchmarks or in a topic discussion. Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets is a good example.

Work with publicists to prep your guest to be a part of the show before they go on while assuring them that they can promote their project.

The interview rule to live by: Entertain first, inform second.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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