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My TV Debut and What It Taught Me

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The more I learn about the
publishing industry, the more amazed I am by how much creative freedom and
opportunity are within reach of unknown authors and small publishers.

 

As a nature and wildlife photographer,
I founded ImageStream Press in 2003 to draw attention to our natural resources
and the need for conservation and preservation. This year we published our
third title. When I’m working as a photographer, I often use monotonous travel
time to reflect on photography, my business, new book concepts, and visions for
the future.

 

One such time got me thinking
about how to communicate best to Minnesotans who might be interested in our
books that feature the state’s great parks, wildlife refuges, and natural
areas. The Minnesota State Fair came to mind. It marks the end of summer in our
great state as the vivid fall colors—the very things I feature in my
photography books—emerge in our wonderful outdoors.

 

Our local NBC television
affiliate, KARE-11, has a longstanding tradition of live shows from the
Minnesota State Fair on Saturday mornings, which often feature local artists as
well as state fair attractions, weather, and news. The host, Belinda Jensen, is
the station’s weekend meteorologist and an active participant in the community
and in environmental stories. This seemed like the perfect forum for an
interview.

 

Going On Live

 

When I returned from my trip, I
immediately created a two-page proposal for an on-camera, live interview with
Belinda Jensen about my new books and our Minnesota outdoor environment. I
attached a press package on Our National Parks and Wildlife Refuges, <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>Capturing the Rhythms of
Light and Land
, and our newest title, <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>The Flight Deck: Digital Rhythms of Our National
Wildlife Refuges
, along with several free copies of my books. To
my amazement, three days later the KARE-11 Saturday producer contacted me to
schedule a live interview from the fair.

 

I had never been on radio or
television and had no idea what to expect. I knew I should be really nervous
but somehow I wasn’t. Arriving early for the interview the following weekend, I
found the KARE-11 booth already packed with viewers waiting for the show to
start. I muscled my way in, was whisked backstage, and quickly met the show’s
producer and other guests. As my segment was approaching, I could feel my
nervous energy building, and I wondered if I had made the right choice to go
live for the first time in my brief publishing career. Here I am, a complete
unknown, backstage with the state’s number-one meteorologist, a person I watch
every day. As each guest went on, I thought, Wow, you did a great job of
getting your message out. Could I really pull this off?

 

The answer was a definite yes. I
had a great time; I felt I connected well with the interviewer and the viewers,
and after the show I received book orders and email.

 

Having gone into this completely
cold, I now have some tips for anyone aspiring to do a television interview
focusing on a book:

 

·      Have a vision of what you want to
achieve.

·      Identify a host with an interest
in your subject/book. Propose the interview/concept directly via a press kit
that is high quality, professional, timely, and newsworthy; include sample
questions and answers; provide photos and a bio that covers credits, awards,
publications, and anything else that might lend itself to a human-interest
story. And send several review copies.

·      Don’t call or hassle needlessly.

·      Identify two or three key messages
to present and practice a dialog about them. Make sure that your information is
timely and that listeners and/or viewers understand why it should interest
them.

·      Think about concise sound-bite
responses to the interviewer’s questions. This is no place for long, wandering
statements.

·      Wear clothes that help you build
and maintain your confidence. Dress neatly and keep it comfortable. Watch prior
shows to get a feeling for what the hosts and guests typically wear. Stay
within the norm.

·      Arrive early and let the reporters
and producers do their work. This is not the time for small talk.

·      Let the show’s producer provide
final guidance on the structure of the segment.

·      Talk with the other guests to ease
the tension you may be feeling beforehand.

·      Have at least one book on hand so
the interviewer can hold it up during the segment. You might also consider
providing a large poster of the book’s front cover; check with the producer on
what would be appropriate.

·      Introduce yourself to the host
before the segment, while you’re still backstage.

·      When you go out in front of the
cameras for the first time, look around the audience to find a family member or
friend.

·      Don’t stare directly into the
camera; keep solid eye contact with the interviewer and any live audience.
Never look down or away.

·      Sit up straight.

·      Let the interview flow; be willing
to change direction, and follow the host’s lead while seeming genuinely
interested in answering the questions in an informative and lighthearted way.

·      Maintain an upbeat attitude and
show that you’re enjoying the discussion. Smile.

·      Most important, really do enjoy
the experience. It’s not often you can talk about your book or publishing
business to thousands of people.

·      Thank the interviewer and the
producer.

 

Jim Jamieson, a nature and
wildlife photographer, heads ImageStream Press, publisher of <span
class=8StoneSans>Our National Parks and Wildlife
Refuges
and Capturing
the Rhythms of Light and Land
, among other books. To find out
more, visit www.imagestreampress.com or email jjamieson@compuserve.com.

 

 

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