The 7 Deadly Sins of Television Interviews

Cecelia Haddad, Evoke PR Network

In the world of news there are a multitude of sins that can have an adverse effect on the person being interviewed and/or the organisation they represent.  Some sins are worse than others but regardless they will all lead to a bad experience that could leave a reputation in tatters.

Below are seven of the most deadly of all sins when it comes to television interviews.

1. Sloth – The avoidance of any work

Going into an interview without any research on the journalist, the program or who watches it.  It’s like kicking a goal and having no idea where the post is.  We’ve seen it before unfortunately… The interviewee says little of interest to the audience or has lost them through jargon and irrelevant information.
Do (or delegate someone else to) research past programs, watch a few, get an idea of the host’s tone and that of the program, then formulate your messages accordingly.

2. Gluttony – Overindulgence

This takes the form of going on and on about yourself and/or your organisation without consideration for what the audience might be interested in.
Find a medium between what you want to say and how it is relevant to the audience watching. Give the audience something over and above product/service information that will leave them feeling informed.

3. Wrath – Anger and/or uncontrolled feelings of hatred

Getting heated in an interview – no matter how hostile the question – is a really bad look – it says ‘guilty’, ‘defensive’ and nothing good about your personality for the audience to relate to.
Develop and practice answers to the questions you don’t want to be asked.  If you are prepared well enough, then you will be in control when the tough questions are asked.

4. Envy – Resentment of what others have

This is slamming the competition and being negative about what others are doing. Penance:  Practice talking about your strengths and how you are different from others without the need to point out their flaws.

5. Lust – An inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body

You want your 15 minutes of fame and you don’t care how you get it – so you call yourself an expert when the truth is you aren’t an expert at all.  You get asked a question you have no idea about but you answer it anyway.
Only agree to speak about what you know and let the journalist know your areas of expertise in advance.  If during an interview, you are asked something you don’t know, then be honest and tell the journalist exactly that.

6. Greed – Desire for material wealth

You have just forgotten the rule of PR, which is to ‘make aware or inform’ not sell.  You are so caught up with your sales spiel you didn’t realise that the journalist and the audience has just switched off and you will most likely never be invited back to be a guest.
Penance:  Develop a conversational language style which allows you to talk with your audience not at them.

7. Pride – Excessive belief in one’s own abilities

The original and most serious sin of all.  It is the belief that you are so good at what you do that you don’t need any help.  You may know your topic but if you have not had extensive experience or training in being interviewed you could do irreparable damage to yourself and your organisation.
Penance:  Get professional media training.  Don’t ask your work colleagues to do it they will be too scared to tell you the truth.  Get outside help and do it BEFORE you do the interview.


About our Guest Blogger, Cecelia Haddad, Evoke PR Network

Cecelia is a partner of the Evoke PR Network.  She has been in PR and Marketing for over 20 years. Cecelia has worked with some of the most recognized brands in Australia and her expertise lies in developing a long term vision and strategy for clients with an inherent consideration to meeting overarching business objectives. She is currently Chair of the Registered Consultancies Group (NSW) which is part of the Public Relations Institute of Australia. For more information, check out *This article first appeared on


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