Lessons from the media interview we just can’t stop watching

It is an interview we simply cannot stop watching and it is clear we are not the only ones.

Since Professor Robert Kelly’s interview on BBC News was hilariously interrupted by his young children last Friday, he and his family have become overnight internet sensations, inundated with requests for more interviews.

The interview, which also saw his horrified wife Kim Jung-a desperately try to salvage the situation, generated such demand that they later held a press conference – complete with the scene stealing children – and issued a press release.

Professor Kelly, was speaking to the BBC via Skype about the impeachment of president Park Gue-hye, when his interview turned into something of a car crash, albeit a joyful one which brought a lot of laughter and cheer around the world.

Footage of the interview on the BBC Facebook page has since been viewed more than 84 million times.



Media interviews are increasingly carried out using tools such as Skype and FaceTime, particularly when discussing urgent or breaking news events, and the clear lesson from this case, and one Professor Kelly himself acknowledged, was that he should have locked the door.

'Interviews are increasingly carried out using Skype particularly when discussing breaking news' via @mediafirstltd http://bit.ly/2mNlzF6

Another crucial point is that when things do go wrong, the outcome is unlikely to be as bad as you fear. Shortly after his interview he expressed concern on Twitter that his interview could be the sort of thing that ‘goes viral and gets weird’.



He also later admitted to the media he feared the incident would mean ‘no television network would ever call me again to speak’.

Yet since the interview his profile has never been higher and, to use his own words, he has been ‘deluged with requests’. Media interviews are tough and mistakes will happen. But it is important spokespeople know mistakes are unlikely to be career limiting.

We wouldn’t want to risk taking some of the joy from the Professor Kelly interview by analysing it further. But what else do spokespeople need to know before they are interviewed on Skype or FaceTime?

Here are a few tips from our media training and social media training courses:


Check your surroundings

One of the other most memorable Skype interviews saw a large pink sex toy, kept on top of the fridge, completely steal the focus of the interview. Clearly kitchens are used for more than we imagined, but this also shows that the news outlets technical team are not going to have time to check you have tidied up before you go live.



If you are being interviewed as an expert, position your camera in front of a bookcase. If it is a positive story, try to put your organisation’s logo in the background, and if it negative, make sure it is not visible.


Position the camera correctly

A lens angled upwards fattens the face, while straight on or pointed slightly down slims it. Any sources of light should be directed towards your face, not behind. Ask the technical team at the other end of the line if the shot is properly framed.


Manage the delay

There is often an issue of delay with Skype and FaceTime interviews despite improvements in the technology. If you are experiencing a gap, maintain eye contact and be patient – don’t try to fill the void otherwise you will end up talking over the interviewer and engaging in the awkward ping pong we often see on news channels.

'Don't try to fill the void if you experience a delay during a Skype or FaceTime interview' via @mediafirstltd http://bit.ly/2mNlzF6


Decent microphone

Using an built-in microphone will make you sound like you are conducting the interview from a bat cave. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but an external one will dramatically improve sound quality and ensure your message is heard.



It sounds obvious, but make sure you have a good quality Wifi connection, 4G signal or at the very least 3G signal.


Media First are media and communications training specialists with more than 30 years of experience. We have a team of trainers, each with decades of experience working as journalists, presenters, communications coaches and media trainers. 

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