In-Studio Vs. Zoom TV Interviews: A Complete Guide To Preparing For Both

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By Samantha Jacobson, Founder of TenXPR

Just when you’ve finally mastered Zoom interviews like a pro, in-studio TV interviews are making a comeback in a big way, and it’s not just because broadcast industry experts miss the in-person work environment like so many of us do. According to several producers in the industry, ratings are actually higher when interviews are conducted in the studio vs. Zoom. This means that audience engagement is higher, which also means that this is a great opportunity to gain optimal exposure through brand marketing on TV!

After two years of social distancing, the shift to in-studio interviews has grown more and more eminent, so much so that a handful of producers and bookers have already requested moving my clients’ existing Zoom interviews to in-studio. On several occasions, it’s gotten to the point where a producer or booker will flat-out cancel an interview altogether if my clients are unable to travel to the studio at a moment’s notice.

But don’t expect to delete Zoom from your devices any time soon. Many producers have no issue allowing experts to take interviews from the comfort of their homes.

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That’s why, as you make plans for your existing or future TV PR campaign, it’s important to be prepared for either scenario. But keep in mind – the environment in which you take your interview and how you present yourself during that interview can make or break your big break (as if sharing your message with a wide audience on television isn’t already stressful enough).

In this guide, I draw directly from my experience as a former TV producer turned broadcast PR expert to give you the insights you need to show up as your best self – whether in-person or through your computer screen.

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Here are some tips that apply to both scenarios. Keep in mind that a few of these tips may overlap for both in-studio and Zoom interviews, while others may only apply to one environment or the other. I organize them accordingly below:

In-Studio + Zoom
What to Wear

Whether your interview is in-person or over Zoom, the clothing guidelines are the same:

  • No stripes or crazy patterns. Stick to solids.
  • Nothing overly bright. Your best bet is jewel tones (i.e. deep blue, green, or purple) or muted colors (i.e. gray or tan).
  • Avoid flashy jewelry.
  • When in doubt, keep it simple!

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In-Studio vs. Zoom

The following tips highlight the differences between in-studio and Zoom interviews.

Your Message
  • In-Studio:
      • Keep it conversational. Pretend like you’re talking to a friend.
      • Never, I repeat never plug your own product or website if you want to be invited back! 
  • Zoom:
    • To help you remember your key points, create a message “cheat sheet” and tape it above the camera hole of your laptop. No one will know!
  • In-Studio:
    • During your interview, the reporter will add a lower third graphic at the bottom of the screen that most commonly will include your full name and your title. If you’re hoping to gain more visibility for your book, you might have to ask if they’d be willing to incorporate it into your title. For example: “Author of [NAME OF BOOK]”.
  • Zoom:
    • This is where you’ll have to get creative. If you’re promoting your company, brand or product, see if you can set up your background in a way that displays any swag you have with your logo on it. If you’re promoting your book, you can simply set your book up in the background with the cover facing the camera.
    • If that’s not possible, you can also Photoshop your logo or book title onto your headshot. Just make sure it’s positioned on the photo in a clear and visible way!

Again (and this bear’s repeating!): if you want to be invited back for an in-studio or Zoom interview, never plug your own product or website when you’re sharing your message!

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Makeup + Hair
  • In-Studio:
    • If you’ve booked a national interview, they will usually provide you with makeup and hair on-site, but come prepared with your own makeup and hair supplies just in case (don’t forget to brush your hair – viewers at home will be able to see the back of it!). Makeup and hair offered at local interviews are dependent on the network and location, however, most stations have stopped offering both since the COVID era. Don’t worry men, makeup and hair are usually offered to you as well!
  • Zoom:
    • Women should be prepared to apply some makeup to avoid looking tired and washed out, even if they’ve had a solid 8 hours of sleep! Men also have options. I always recommend this clear facial gel to keep your skin from looking too shiny by creating a matte appearance. Both men and women should brush their hair and style it so it isn’t distracting to viewers. If you have a bad habit of playing with your hair, it might make sense to pull it back.
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  • Find a quiet place with no echo.
  • Lock your door so your kids and/or pets don’t waltz in during your interview, or this could be you!
  • Never use virtual backgrounds. They tend to get glitchy and might even make you disappear!
  • If you’re going to use headphones, avoid using headphones with wires because they can be distracting. Wireless headphones like Apple AirPods are preferred.
  • Natural lighting is always better if you can manage it, but be aware of the time of day and where the sun will hit at the time of your interview.
  • For the best natural lighting, keep any windows in front of you rather than behind you.
  • When in doubt, remember that it’s better to be in a dark room and create your own lighting. This light is my go-to!
Camera Tricks
  • Always look at the camera hole, not at you or the reporter/anchor. Warning: this is going to feel really unnatural! For good measure, I recommend taping a picture directly above the camera hole to remind you to keep your eyes there throughout the duration of your interview!

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