Expert Advice

Posted on: February 1st, 2016 by Sally Sherry

8 Million People are Watching – Make the Most of it

Unit Chief Allison Girvin knows national news. She was a producer at ABC News for 11 years before leaving for The Huffington Post. She is currently Chief of the Business and Tech Unit at NBC News. Ms. Girvin and I grew up on the same street in San Diego, but really got to know each other on the other side of the country, while we both studied at Columbia Journalism School. So I asked her to share her expert advice with you, my clients. Here are Allison Girvin’s most important tips for a successful interview.

Be Flexible

“Breaking news happens. It’s not personal… it’s news. We may need to reschedule you. It feels like there are one million pieces that have to have to fit together to make TV magic. We are relying on satellite windows, live trucks, camera crews, reporters and lots of complicated technology working just right. It doesn’t always happen in your ten minute timeframe. So if you can be flexible, the chances of your interview happening dramatically increase.”

Limit Your Conditions

“Please don’t give us a list of 25 things you won’t discuss. We may accept one or two conditions – but sometimes conditions can be a deal breaker. For example, if you have been in the news recently, we have to ask you about it. If we don’t, we’re not doing our job. I once canceled an interview with a Grammy Award winning artist, who said she would not answer any questions about her celebrity marriage. Meanwhile, details of her troubled marriage were all over the news – so we couldn’t have her on and not ask about it.”

Be a Good Talker

“We love dynamic. We love high energy. Show your personality and make it fun for me to talk to you. Excite me… please don’t put me to sleep. Good talkers can make the most mundane topic interesting. And if you can do that, we will ask you back. We keep a list of all the great talkers and they become our “go-to” people. On the other hand… there is a very famous comedian who is such a terrible interview, we stopped booking him for our shows. He is paid to be funny, and is very popular, but he is so terrible in a one-on-one interview, we can’t have him on. You have to be a good talker.”