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The peeps at Kel & Partners have a lot to say. After all we are public relations and social media zealots who thrive on sharing interesting news and great stories with the public. The Ampersand Blog is really the voice of our Peeps – the kick-ass team of people that work at K&P. Whether it’s a story about the way PR works NOW, the social media universe, our families, beloved pets or quirky travel experiences, you’ll find it all right here. You may laugh, you may cry, but the best part is you’ll leave feeling “wicked smaht” as we like to say here in Boston.

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    Meagan Shaffer | Monday, August 23, 2010 5 Comments

    A PR girl goes in front of the camera

    You know the feeling – you see a HARO/ProfNet that is PERFECT for your client. You know exactly what you’re going to say – you respond immediately and eagerly anticipate the reporter’s response. But how many of you have indulged in a little self-serving pitch? It can be a nerve-wracking experience to pitch oneself, and brings that feeling of anticipation to a new level. I traveled down that path last fall, when a query came out for a “national TV show”, looking for “overweight engaged couples looking to lose weight before their wedding.” At the time, I was clocking in right around 300 pounds – even on my 5’10 frame, easily putting me into the “overweight” category. And my fiancé (who was built like a lineman – more Dan Koppen than Teddy Bruschi) and I had become engaged a few months prior during a trip to New Orleans (if you’ve never been, go – there isn’t a more magical city that I’ve ever found.) So I fired off an email, sharing our story and our struggles with weight, and waited to hear back.

    After 2 days, I gave up (you all know that feeling). But then I got a call that would change my life forever.

    “Hi, this is so-and-so from the Dr. Oz show – how are you?” Of course I knew who Dr. Oz was, and his new show had launched a few weeks prior – but thought they were calling about a client. It wasn’t until the words “wedding weight loss challenge” came out of the producer’s mouth that I realized she was calling for me! Several phone interviews and a video submission later, my fiancé and I were selected from hundreds of couples across the US to be featured in their special weight loss challenge.

    Over the course of my career, I’ve coached dozens of clients through TV appearances. “Don’t wear white or busy patterns”, “remember to sit on the back of your jacket to smooth out wrinkles”, “Mind your ‘um’s’ ‘so’s’ and hand movements” and “your message points are….”. When it’s time to be “the subject” yourself, those rules help – and certainly helped me to coach my fiancé – but the feeling of being “the subject” is not something that you can really coach through. The nerves are tremendous and overwhelming, even for an attention-whore like me. After 3 appearances on the program, I learned to relax – a little. The best things I’ve learned from my time in front of the camera:

    • There is such a thing as being “over-prepared”. Don’t let your client fall into the trap of having exact sentences prepared in response to questions. If you know what the reporter is going to ask your client, have them rehearse with several answers so they don’t end up fearing “flubbing their lines” – or worse, actually flubbing their lines.
    • Things like posture and smiling are very easily forgotten in the glare of the lights – make that your last reminder to the client as they head into the interview, because those two things can take you from “a natural” to “a disaster” if forgotten.
    • When you’re watching a client being interviewed, it can feel like an eternity as you watch, listen and critique their every syllable and movement. When you’re the one in front of the camera, time passes in a nano-second. And, it’s likely you won’t remember what you said…at all.
    • Post-interview is an incredibly vulnerable feeling. Did I sound intelligent? Did I look ok? Save the critiques of what they did WRONG for the day-after, and use the time immediately following an interview to effusively praise them for what they did RIGHT. Our job as PR people is to be both coach and cheerleader, and a little empathy goes a long way in prepping clients to become TV stars.
    • TV producers are busier than any of us even realize. Their days are incredibly long, for shows like Dr. Oz they are taping segments for multiple shows on the same day, and they are literally keeping hundreds of plates spinning in the air at any given time. In talking to producers at the Oz show, they agreed that email was the best method of pitching, and that they share pitches with other producers if they don’t fit what they work on. Also – don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back in a 48-hour time frame – sometimes it takes 2-3 weeks before a producer even has time to check their inbox.

    As for us? With the wedding a few weeks away, we’ve both lost a ton of weight (you’ll have to tune in to see how much!) and have loved every minute of our experience.

    You can check out our most-recent appearance (April 2010) on YouTube (at the 1:15 mark – just don’t critique me!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fw4IKl2naU&feature=search

    Stay tuned for an update this fall!

  • http://www.TheClassicImage.com Dana

    Great job Meag! Your lucky clients can learn from you. Your great personality and confidence in front of the camera really showed in your appearance on the Oz show. It leaves us all eager for more. We are definitely looking forward to the update!

  • RedHeadMeag

    Thanks so much Dana!! I really have learned so much and have had a lot of fun along the way!

  • Sellis7187

    Meag, your so great :) I am so proud of you for all you have done and continue to do… only wish I could snag you as a career coach and make me into somthing for you to work WITH!!! much love, always

  • http://twitter.com/RedHeadMeag Meagan Ellis

    :) Thanks Suzanne! Hey, any time you want advice I'm all yours!!!!

  • http://ampersandblog.com/?p=70 A Boston girl no more…. « Ampersand Blog

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