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Charlie Rose Says "Be Authentic"

I'm at the Bulldog Reporter 2008 Media Relations Summit, and the first keynote was a very interesting and fun conversation between PR legend Howard Rubenstein and TV personality Charlie Rose.

Charlie really represents the high-water mark of media interviewers: he has a one-hour show, commercial-free, on PBS, and he likes to get in-depth with his guests. So you really need to be prepared -- you're not going to get away with either simple sound bites or off-the-cuff answers.

I'm sure Charlie would rather have guests who haven't gone through formal media training, but I can assure you that you'll be happier, and Charlie may even enjoy interviewing you more, if you've taken the time to practice and get comfortable in the interview setting. And I believe this goes for virtually all journalists as well -- there's nothing worse that interviewing a boring spokesperson who doesn't have anything interesting to say.

Here are a couple of Charlie's tips and comments -- again, they really work for any journalist conducting an interview:

  • He wants to feel engaged with you as a guest -- in other words, don't waste his time
  • He wants you to "tell me what you know" and "tell me what it feels like"
  • Be authentic -- he doesn't want canned answers and someone who's covering up. For spokespeople or other guests, the trick here is to know what you feel comfortable saying, so can authentically share your experiences but without being more revealing than you want to be.
And one from Howard Rubenstein, a Rose friend and former guest on his show: "People think they are going to come in and give you message points," he said, "but when I was on, I forgot the camera was on" and opened up much more than expected.