Anyone seeking publicity through TV or radio can learn a lot from Charles Ramsey, the colorful neighbor who rescued kidnap victim Amanda Berry on Monday, and shared his story in a memorable television interview.
As a media coach, I took note of all the things Ramsey did right, and shared some of them here on Wednesday. But there were some things he could have done better, and these are also great learning opportunities.
For the record, I know he’s not a media professional and this may have been his first TV interview ever. Kudos to him for doing so much so well. I offer the following tips only because it’s such a great teachable moment.
1. Avoid distractions: It can be incredibly difficult to focus on an interviewer while standing on a street surrounded by dozens of people, and it proved a challenge for Ramsey. Every time something distracted him, he dropped the thread of his story. As a media guest, you need to do everything you can to avoid distractions. The good news is that should be a lot easier in your circumstances than in Ramsey’s. If you’re doing a radio interview, go to a quiet room and close the door. If you’re on a TV set, avoid looking at all of the moving parts behind the cameras and focus on the host.
2. Know when to stop talking: Right after the memorable sound byte I mentioned in Wednesday’s post, the reporter tried to end the interview. Ramsey wasn’t having it, and he continued to riff like a comedian and talk over the reporter. He could get away with that – he was the day’s top news story! You can’t. Don’t try to wedge another sentence or two in at the end because it will make you appear uncooperative and rude. (For the record, as a broadcaster, I would have let Ramsey talk as much as he wanted!)
3. Be prepared for what’s next (good or bad): Charles Ramsey went viral. Not just because of his good deed, but because of that WEWS-TV interview. He was trending on Twitter for the majority of May 7th and was invited to do other interviews on national networks. That’s great! For you as a potential media guest, a great interview can lead to more interviews from other outlets. Be prepared to be busy. Also have an action plan for any negatives that might surface as a result of becoming a household name. Within 24 hours of Ramsey going viral, a news organization published a story about his past criminal record. (Heck, Ramsey never claimed to be a saint and the incident happened years ago. I was glad to see public reaction to the news has been forgiving.)
Thank you Charles Ramsey for an interview that’s as entertaining on the 10th viewing as the first. And thank you for acting courageously when you heard a young woman’s screams. We can all learn something from you.
Click Here to read part one.