During our Richmond Session, the VALOR Class fellows had the pleasure of performing a television interview simulation. (When I say pleasure, I really mean nerve-wracking experience.) This session of “Video Interview Strategies – Ideas & Practice” was facilitated by Virginia Farm Bureau media pros Norman Hyde and Sherri McKinney. While we were provided the topic (cost share funding to protect the environment), we were not aware that the reporter was filled with skeptical views of agriculture.
As we began, my thoughts were: Oh boy – stay calm. Stop sweating. Stop sweating. Hopefully someone else will volunteer to go first and I’ll see how this plays out. No way they’ll pick who goes first. And if they do, what are the odds they’ll pick me to go first?
So I get selected to go first. Thanks Sherri. This is real swell.
While this two minute interview was filled with multiple challenges (a TV interview, conducted by a reporter with a negative outlook toward agriculture, in the presence of your peers), it proved to be a great learning experience in how to interact with the media. Norm and Sherri conducted the interviews, and shared helpful feedback and tips for the group for future implementation. Most people know Norm and Sherri as the faces behind the weekly Virginia Farm Bureau TV program, Real Virginia. Their experience also includes radio, news releases, broadcast news, TV anchor and reporter, and speech writing.
Some quick highlights of “do’s and don’ts” are:
– Stick to your key points
– Take time to answer
– Be extremely concise – one sentence answers work best
– Personalize your story if possible
– Don’t ever say “no comment”
– Don’t use acronyms
– Don’t ramble
– Don’t lose your temper and get defensive
– Don’t speak “off the record”
The agriculture industry has a good story to tell, but we have to know how to convey this when given the opportunity. The story is feeding and clothing the world responsibly, and we must be ready to deliver when given an audience. Are you ready to tell your story?
A sincere thank you is in order for Norm and Sherri for sharing their knowledge of media relations with the group, and a special thanks to Virginia Farm Bureau for hosting the group while in Richmond. Stay tuned as Session V starts on May 11th, with Urban Agriculture & National Agricultural Policy taking place in Northern Virginia and Washington DC.