Making the most of your TV interview

The media is inundated with stories, yet reporters are always looking for good content. If you’ve got a great story to tell or an upcoming event to promote, with broad reach, chances are a TV reporter will be interested. If you’re lucky enough to be invited on a newscast to talk about your story or event, it’s important to make the most out of your 1.5 minutes of fame.

To capture the attention of the audience, a little prep work is in order before pulling into the TV station parking lot. Begin by researching the reporter and TV show or newscast. Take a look at social media and get a feel for the reporter or station’s style. Learn something new about the reporter and be ready to discuss prior to going live on air. It will help break the ice and make both of you more relaxed. Does the reporter post pictures of children or pets on his or her Twitter account? You might mention, “Hey, I saw some photos on your Twitter feed of cute kids. Are those your children?” Besides giving the reporter a chance to talk about him/herself, it lets them know you cared enough to do some research.

Often interviewees are unsure of where to look. When it’s time to go live, don’t worry about the camera. Instead, look at the person interviewing you. You’ll be more at ease if you pretend it’s just you and the reporter having a conversation as if you’re in a coffee shop. The more relaxed you look, the more the viewers will want to continue to watch. If the interview includes several people or a panel, look at the person speaking. Remember, the camera can pan out and capture the group, so always be camera ready!

What to wear is an important question whether you’re on TV or not! Have you ever watched the 10 p.m. news and the anchor’s tie or jacket catches your attention? If it seems to be moving and fuzzy, it’s not your eyes. Chances are the fabric has a small pattern. Checks, houndstooth and sometimes stripes cause the clothing item to dance or move. To get the viewer to focus on you and listen to what you’re saying, it’s best to wear solid, dark clothing. A white shirt and tie are great for a corporate meeting, but on camera it’s too stark. Consider a blue or other solid colored shirt instead. Women who wear dresses or skirts should consider the length and be mindful of how they sit in the chair. Cross your feet at the ankle and tilt your legs to one side. Remember Mia in the Princess Diaries?!


If your interview is not in-studio, put some consideration into your location and backdrop. If you’re conducting an interview about highway funding, it might seem like a good idea to stand in front of a highway or stretch of road that will be impacted. Don’t do it. The noise and the traffic will be loud and distracting. When you’re ready to do an out of studio interview, it’s a good idea to turn around to see what’s behind you. The right backdrop can help tell the story. If you have a positive story to tell, try to position yourself in front of your company logo. If the news is not so great, avoid it.

Practice makes perfect, and the more you can review your talking points, the more comfortable you’ll be. Pay attention to your hand gestures, which can be a distraction. Body language is important too, so remember what your mom said about sitting up straight!

Additional advance work for the TV station:

  • A few days before the interview, provide the producer or reporter with the name, title, and company name of the person who will be interviewed so they can prepare a graphic to display on screen. Include any other important information (i.e., website, event location address, hours, phone number) to be displayed on screen.
  • Video footage or still images can be used on air during the interview if provided in advance. 
  • Ask where to park and what door to use. If you’re doing a 5:45 a.m. interview for the morning news, be sure to ask if the door will be unlocked.
  • Get the number of the producer or another staff member in case of a last-minute emergency.
  • After the interview, monitor the TV station website and social media for a link to the story, which you can reshare on your own social media.

You know your story better than anyone else, and with a little thought, planning and practice, you’ll come off as a media expert. If you’d like to learn more about prepping for an interview, give us a call. We’re experts at conducting media and spokesperson training, including a videotaped before and after mock interview and critique session, which participants find most helpful. Stay tuned for a future follow up post on how to stay on message during the interview.

PR Bracket Challenge – The Results!

A big THANK YOU to everyone who participated in our 2017 PR Bracket Challenge. We got great feedback from our clients and fellow marketing professionals.

Click on the images to watch the unveiling of the winners!

Bracket Challenge 2017 PR Focus

Bracket Challenge 2017 PR PartnerTrue to our brand—strategy seems to be king.

When asked, “What’s your biggest PR focus this year?” most responded strategic communications and digital, web & social, with strategic communications coming out on top.

As for our other “Final Four” bracket—“What’s the most important trait in a PR partner?”—the results were pretty even, but relationships with the team and strategic counsel pulled off the win and moved forward to the semi-finals. It was a close one, but like the first bracket, strategy ended up winning it all, with strategic counsel being crowned the champion.

Hope everyone enjoys cheering on the teams in that OTHER match-up today! And, if you’re looking for a partner in strategic planning or strategic communications, give us a call. 

PR Bracket Challenge—What are Your Picks?

In honor of March Madness, we decided to put together a little bracket challenge of our own. Instead of the typical office pool to see which of us has superior college basketball knowledge (aka luck), we designed a public relations bracket competition.

We’re asking our clients, fellow PR pros, friends and YOU to decide what PR services move forward in each of the two “Final Fours” below:

Bracket Challenge 2017 PR FocusBracket Challenge 2017 PR Partner

Join in on the fun and let us know your “picks” by: 

  • Emailing our Public Relations Specialist & Social Media Manager Katie Koeppel at
  • Or, sending us a tweet @BLMPRmke
  • Or, messaging us your predictions on LinkedIn
  • Or, simply commenting below!

We’ll be sharing the results on our blog and social media pages next week—stay tuned!

Make it Easy for Customers to Choose YOU

We are in the midst of strategic planning with a couple of our healthcare clients. It’s easy at this stage to get lost in the process details. That’s especially true for us because we are all about the process and the facilitation. Our role is help craft a process and then support the client to conclusion. We tell our clients, “We don’t this to you. We come along aside on the journey,” providing guidance and tools to make it efficient, directional and productive. The visual below outlines our six-step planning process.

strategic planning visual

As I was sitting in my office the other night working on the details of the process, I thought it was a good time to step back and reflect on a big picture question or two. I recalled a discussion during a recent planning session about the differences between a patient and a customer. Patients come to us to have things done to them. Customers make choices about what, when, where and how they get stuff. As you might imagine, it was interesting dialogue between the clinicians and the marketing director.

In today’s increasingly consumer-driven healthcare space, how do you encourage the customer to choose you? What is it that makes for loyal customers?

In healthcare, there are eight steps any effective system can take to engender customer loyalty: Make it easy for me to…

  1. Find your providers with locations that are convenient and have the same look and feel
  2. Get in the door so it’s important to work on access, both physical and virtual
  3. Find what I need once I get in the door by guiding me along the way
  4. Understand the why, what, when where and how I go about getting what I need
  5. Know what it will cost me for what I’m getting, not just one or two parts
  6. Know what I need to do to ensure a good outcome because I assume you provide only high quality care
  7. Pay for what I got, not just one or two parts of it 30 to 60 days after the fact
  8. Get and provide feedback on my experience so I know what to do next and you know how I feel about the whole thing

Maybe that’s what the strategic plan should focus on: making sure we have the talent and resources to execute flawlessly on these eight steps. It’s hard to have loyal customers if you don’t make it easy for them to be your customers. Just like culture trumps strategy any day, ease trumps loyalty.

How easy do you make it for customers to choose and do business with you? 

Mission Critical – 5 Steps to Help Your Company Get Back on its Feet

So, your company’s experiencing a crisis. All eyes are turned to you. What are you going to do about it? Good communications and crisis management can help your company get back on its feet.

Assessment and Planning: The Value of a Matrix
One of the most helpful assessment tools is a crisis matrix, which organizes potential crises according to their 1) likelihood and 2) potential damage. No one can create a crisis plan to deal with every eventuality. The matrix helps you focus on the most-likely, most-damaging scenarios, and allocate resources accordingly.

Drills and Exercises: Don’t Get Rusty
Many companies put a plan on paper, but never actually practice it. Savvy PR practitioners develop “Crisis Toolkit” templates in advance, which might include a corporate statement or news release, internal and external talking points, Q&As and phone protocols for employees.

Crisis management experts, meanwhile, guide the company in drills and mock scenarios that help clarify roles and responsibilities. We often compare this to fire drills — you want to become familiar with what to do when there is no fire, so you can respond via muscle memory if a fire occurs.

Developing the Message
Most people want three things from communications professionals during a crisis: 1) Acknowledgement of what’s happened, 2) An explanation of what’s being done to address the situation, and 3) A means to provide feedback and ask questions.

Messaging is a great example of why PR and crisis management must work together. While PR is responsible for creating the messages, counselors and crisis responders also use that messaging on the phone or on the ground.

Getting the Message Out
Your company has developed fantastic messages, but how do you get them out? And how do you handle the influx of questions that’s sure to follow?

It’s important to ask who’s going to be the best at delivering a message. Typically, PR people are in the best position to communicate with the media, industry regulators and other internal or external stakeholders, while crisis management teams are better suited to communicate directly with the employees and families involved. Crisis response counselors are trained in how to deliver bad news to families and how to deal with the reaction. That expertise takes the burden off the company.

Dealing with the Aftermath
Sometimes PR professionals make the mistake of thinking their job is done once the crisis has been communicated, but it’s a smart idea to sit down, re-evaluate how the plan worked—or didn’t—and identify the next shoe drops or communication opportunities. It’s also a good way to ensure that support for your customers and employees doesn’t disappear now that the crisis is over.

Readying for “Repeal & Replace” in Healthcare Communications

Recent moves from the Trump Administration underscore the importance and volatility of the ACA debate for healthcare leaders and consumers alike. What’s less clear are the potential scenarios for “repeal and replace,” and how and when they might become reality. To help your team stay prepared, we put together the below infographic that visually captures a few possible paths the president and Congress might take—and a few they likely won’t.

Whatever the outcome, good communications strategy will help ease the transition for patients, providers and insurers. At Bottom Line, healthcare’s our business. We helped systems navigate the widespread communications needs when the ACA first passed, including advice on:

  • Making information visual and easy to understand for healthcare consumers
  • Personalizing the impact by using avatar stories to share examples for various consumer ages and audiences
  • Proactively gathering common questions and resources to share with consumers

Now, we stand ready to help communicate whatever the next wave of changes brings.

ACA Repeal & Replace

Practicing What We Preach in a Crisis

Last month, we experienced something we often help our clients navigate – a crisis. A water heater pipe burst in the office above us and water poured into the Bottom Line space, soaking our carpets and damaging our ceilings, walls and equipment.

office after flood

office cieling after flood








Luckily, our expertise in communications and crisis management helped Bottom Line get back on its feet in no time. In just two days after discovering our flooded office, we’d successfully moved into a temporary office, showing no change in our client interactions and project execution.

temporary office

Here are the five key rules we followed to make it happen—the same five rules we use when helping clients deal with a crisis situation:

  1. Acknowledge what has happened. After our President and CEO Jeffrey Remsik discovered the flood, he avoided the freeze, flight or fight reaction that often occurs in times of crisis, and instead took immediate, well-planned next step. He contacted the building owners, got the facts of the situation and outlined an action plan.
  2. Communicate immediate next steps. Actions speak louder than words—that is why we made sure we had potential temporary office locations when we told employees and clients about the problem.
  3. Communicate consistently and demonstrate action. All along the way, we kept employees informed of next steps and the timeline for returning back to our office. It was clear our top priority was to protect the health, safety and welfare of our employees.
  4. Provide multiple opportunities and channels to capture feedback. For two weeks after the flood, we facilitated daily check-ins with employees for them to ask questions, and to ensure the temporary office was working well and that they had everything they needed to meet client expectations. 
  5. Ask for help. The key to survival in a crisis is knowing where to go for the right kind of help – the earlier, the better. We were sure to reach out to our attorney, the building’s maintenance staff and the building owners to ensure a smoother, faster return to normalcy.

Click here to learn about another crisis we’ve managed. 

Happy Holidays!

In the spirit of the holidays, we appreciate you! We also appreciate good food and figure you do too, so we’ve compiled our favorite holiday recipes into a “12 Days of PR Holiday Recipe Book.” We hope you enjoy it, and that it inspires you to try your own. Tweet us your favorites at @blmprmke! 

Download a PDF of the recipe book here.


Happy Holidays

Marketing Guru Meet Public Policy Geek

Here at Bottom Line, we recently had the opportunity to be a part of the 2016 Annual meeting of the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD) in Chicago and the Wisconsin Public Relations and Marketing Society’s (WHPRMS) 2016 annual meeting in Madison, WI.

Nicole Singer, our director of client services, facilitated a luncheon round table discussion of strategic planning at SHSMD, and I presented a session on the intersection of healthcare public policy and marketing at WHPRMS. The similarities in the responses at both were striking.

As Nicole guided the round table discussion, she asked how many of the participants were aware of MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015) and recent changes in HOPD (hospital outpatient department) reimbursements. Half had never heard of these policy issues, and the other half said they had heard about it, but did know much. I did the same in Madison, and only one person said he was aware. How about you? Do you know what MACRA is and how it affects your hospital?

The responses underscored the points we made in our WHPRMS presentation: WHPRMS Policy Geek Meets Marketing Maven. Think about it. Marketing tends to focus on consumers and purchasers. The public affairs people tend to focus on politicians and policymakers. Yet they talk to and influence one another. Public concerns and unrest create pressure for Congress to act, while politicians often use strident language that defines “reform” as “death panels” or an “end to Medicare as we know it.”

In our Madison presentation, we covered how to protect and enhance your brand by creating stronger links between your marketing communications and public affairs strategies, and how to strategically connect with public officials around key emerging issues. We also talked with participants about how to translate complex concepts about healthcare reform, reimbursement, quality and transparency into useful and meaningful messages that resonate with clinicians, employees, public officials, and most importantly, patients.

Looking forward, federal healthcare policies include shifting to new payment models, including bundling payments for related services. Federal savings would occur only if providers were paid less in total than under current law, either because they would be delivering fewer and less complex services or because they would be receiving less money per service. Making larger structural changes to health care programs could help the federal budget, but would have a range of effects on providers and beneficiaries. Will this  potential conflict creates a downstream conflict between providers and patients?

As the “repeal and replace” debate plays out over the next several months, healthcare customers are likely to become more aware of the challenges the system is facing, and feel some of the ultimate burdens of the policy changes. How you communicate could be the difference between these two divergent perceptions:

  • The health system is driving us broke – and my doctor and hospital are part of the problem.
  • My doctor and hospital are part of the solution to a broken system.

Which perception are you likely to create with your hospital’s marketing and public policy efforts?

- Jeffrey Remsik, Bottom Line president and CEO