My 22 Tips for handling unwelcome TV Crews

  1. Avoid
    a confrontation, with cameras around. It makes great TV.
  2. Get
    confirmation in writing that you are a ‘contributor’ (ask me why this is so important)
  3. They
    will not concede editorial control, but find out as much as you can.
  4. Be
    careful not to make ‘unreasonable’ demands. E.g. demanding an as-live interview, questions in advance, or previews.
  5. Mention
    legitimate no-go question areas, e.g. commercial confidence or sub judice.
  6. Negotiate
    on the phone, follow up by email.
  7. Treat
    all cameras as running, all mikes on, even when they say they are not.
  8. Don’t
    stop an interview midstream
  9. They
    are guests in your premises, so prevent opportunistic filming.
  10. Ask
    about significant changes, they must tell you.
  11. The less
    they tell you, the more suspicious you should be.
  12. The later
    they approach you, the more suspicious you should be.
  13. Always
    ask if there is anything they have not told you before both the interview and
  14. Don’t
    video them or they will film you doing it.
  15. Do
    sign the release form. It makes little difference.
  16. Do
    give them a suitable place to set up, don’t crowd them, don’t be bullied either.
  17. Don’t
    leave them alone – or if you do, mike the room so you can hear what they are saying about you.
  18. Do give them reasonable time for the interview. 30 mins would be normal. But set an overall limit.
  19. Allow
    time for re-takes (if they are favourable to you) but resist additional filming unless you are happy.
  20. Do
    record the interview yourself.
  21. Make
    a transcript and send them a marked up script of your known views.
  22. Keep
    it friendly but they are not your friends.

(c) John Stonborough. 07771 893 683


About JS

John Stonborough FCIPR specialises in media relations, providing an authoritative and discreet advocacy to corporate and private clients world-wide. He specialises in handling the hostile media and media regulation. He is known for observing "An interview is no time for an original thought." He is the great-nephew of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. His working career began as a London policeman and then as a reporter for the Daily Mail, BBC Radio 4, Thames Television and Channel 4 TV. From 2001 to 2004 he was The Media Advisor to the House of Commons Commission. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. He is married and lives in London, England.
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