Tips for promoting your news website or book on TV

Last week, I shared some tips for promoting your publication on the radio. This week, I’m expanding the list of tips to include ones specific to appearing on television.

All of the radio tips apply to TV, too. But on television, you’re adding a visual element to your presentation, one that can undermine your message if you don’t take the time and make the effort to work within the opportunities of the medium.

So prepare as you would for a radio interview – know your “talking points” and have those easy-to-remember facts and anecdotes ready. Warm up, but keep your cool when you’re on the air. And follow these tips, too:

  • Create a space in your office for TV appearances. You won’t need much, but you should at least get out your own video camera and use it to find a flattering visual context in which you can appear in case a crew wants to shoot you from your office. Ideally, you’ll have something with your site URL or book cover or masthead in the background. Think about all those newspapers who have set up TV backgrounds in their newsrooms. Personally, I recommend trying for a more natural look, like a real (but very clean and orderly) office, but do try to work a reasonable visual plug for your URL in there, too. A promotional poster on the wall next your desk works well. Make sure your preferred shot is well lit and that there are plenty of power outlets and a working phone landline within easy reach, too.

    I work out of a home office, which raises an additional issue. If the TV crew is coming by at an hour when the rest of the family is home, make sure you talk to the kids beforehand about how to behave when the crew is there. In short, keep quiet and stay out of the way.

  • Don’t wear stripes or patterns. Solid colors that flatter your skin tone work best on TV. If you don’t want to look boring, look for creative styles and cuts of clothing rather than wild prints or patterns. Pay closer attention to what anchors and reporters wear on screen and take your cues from them.
  • Don’t wear jewelry that will reflect or pick up light. Most non-professionals forget about lighting when they are working in TV or film. Ditch anything reflective or dangling when you’re on camera.
  • Have a place for a lav mic to attach. You’ll avoid an awkward moment with the camera crew if you’ve got a lapel or pocket where they can clip the mic.
  • Always say yes to the makeup. If you’re appearing in-studio, you might be offered the chance to get make-up before you go on. (This is rare, though. It’s happened to me only once.) If you get the chance, though, take it. Professional studio makeup will help soften your skin tone, reducing glare and making you look more “natural” on screen.
  • Turn off your cell phone. Notice that I didn’t say “put your phone on silent.” Turn it off. Not only do you not want the sound of a ringtone interrupting your interview, you don’t want the distraction of a buzzing phone breaking your concentration when you’re on the air.
  • If you have glasses, angle the tips up a bit from your ears. This will help angle your lenses down to avoid any potential glare from studio lights.
  • Sit up and lean forward slightly. This helps create the best posture for a TV appearance. You’ll look attentive and engaged, instead of slumped and disinterested.
  • Look at your interviewer, not at the camera. The interviewer will position himself or herself relative to the camera for the optimal angle. If you are appearing in a remote shot, and the interviewer is not there with you, do not look at monitor if there is one. Go ahead and look into the camera, instead. Wherever you look, though, keep your eyes focused on that point. Don’t allow your gaze to wander during the interview. That will make you look disengaged, uninterested and “shifty.”
  • If your hands are visible in the shot, keep them in the “strike zone.” For those of you who don’t follow baseball, that means keeping them in front of your torso, below mid-chest and above waist. (If you are standing in the shot, you also can just leave your hands at your side.) Don’t move your hands outside your torso. You want your hands to look natural, but gestures outside the “strike zone” space can look wild. Never put your hands in your pocket, either. That makes you look like you have something to hide.
  • Follow up after your interview with a thank-you note. This goes for radio appearances, as well as for TV. A thank-you email helps you maintain your professional connection with the team at the show that booked you, and helps improve the odds that they might invite you to return in the future.
  • As a journalist, you learned how to cultivate sources. As a publisher, you should apply that skill in cultivating relationships with other media outlets, as well. Your colleagues in radio and television can help you spread the word about your publication, and your credibility as a voice covering your beat. I hope you’ll embrace these tips to help you present yourself even more effectively through radio and television.

    About Robert Niles

    Robert Niles is the former editor of OJR, and no longer associated with the site. You may find him now at