Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I used to be naive enough--or optimistic enough--to believe that journalists were objective, fair, accurate and balanced. I still believe that most working reporters do their best to present each side of the story. But we all bring life's experiences/traumas/worldviews that keep us from being totally unbiased.

So my advice to you is listen, research and find out for yourself if the news outlet on which you are going to be interviewed leans to the left or right... or focuses on a special issue. Don't make assumptions: one television market's affiliates might be more or less sensational than the national brand.

More advice: don't stereotype reporters. They come in all political flavors. Most are more interested in writing a great story than they are pushing any agenda. In most cases, be fair and non-judgemental with a journalist and he or she will be fair and non-judgemental with you.

But do be careful.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bio vs. Sales Pitch

When TV or radio producers ask you to send a bio... send a true biography (more than one page is too much), not a sales pitch.

Often I ask for bios to help us prepare for an interview and to post on the show's website, and the document I get has nothing to do with why we booked the guest. If you are booked to promote a book, the bio should mention you are an author, not sell your speaking services or the products of your company.

And by the same token, if a guest scheduler asks for a bio, don't say, "It's on my website." The producer may not have time to search for it on your website and you lose a chance to get promoted.

Learning Ground

Never mind your political affiliation. You can learn so much about soundbites every four years. The convention speeches are full of them. Listen on talk shows to hear the lines that people are repeating. If the phrase is repeatable, that means it's a soundbite.

Sarah Palin's joke in her acceptance speech ("... the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.") is an example of a repeatable soundbite.

Soundbites are also short and they inspire mental pictures. They should evoke emotion, such as humor, surprise or even anger. You may not agree with or even like every soundbite you hear, but if it makes you think, send money or vote a certain way, it's done its job.