Thursday, March 26, 2015

Going All Mama Bear During a TV Interview

I'm normally a pretty easy-going person.

Seriously - those of you who know me "in real life" know that it takes a lot to get me riled up…For the most part, I can roll with the punches, and although I might make a snarky comment or two (or three…or more…but, really, who's counting???!!), I can pretty much let things go.

Until today.

Yes, today, I turned all Mama Bear - on a television reporter, of all things - while doing an interview on behalf of the Red Cross.

Let me back up.

I'm here in the Washington, D.C. area, attending a conference for the Advanced Public Affairs Team for the Red Cross - my newest assignment within the organization that I've been volunteering with for almost ten years. The conference has been a wealth of information, what with workshops, panel discussions, and hands-on training, and I've been basically a huge sponge, soaking it all up and more.

Because one of my new responsibilities includes possibly doing media interviews on a national level (think CNN or The Weather Channel), I have also been going through some very expedited media training - which basically has me doing not one, but TWO, on-camera interviews on closed-circuit television here at the conference. Yesterday was my first interview, and um…well…let's just say that it was not my best moment.

The reporter I was assigned to is Anne Ball, who is a seasoned broadcast producer and journalist. Currently, she's a multimedia broadcast producer for Voice of America, but she's worked for Fox News Channel, ABC News, and ABC Radio in the past. She's tough - she's intimidating - and she was out to see if she could "trip" me up and get me flustered. Trial by fire, so to speak.

It was an interview conducted where I couldn't see Ms. Ball - she was off in a studio somewhere else, while I'm "on the scene" of a fake disaster (basically, in a totally different room than Ms. Ball) - and I'm being asked questions via a tiny earpiece in my ear. She can see me…but I can't see her.


I have never, ever, ever, ever, EVER done an interview like this…and I'll be frank. It sucked. It was so hard for me to talk with an invisible "voice" that was asking some very tough questions, all while trying to remember to stay on message and not have a "deer in the headlights" look. The interview lasted all of three minutes, which seemed like three hours, and afterwards, I was literally shaking and sweating, limp with nerves and fear. My feedback from Ms. Ball and the Red Cross evaluator from National Headquarters was a mixed bag…although I wasn't totally awful…I wasn't totally awesome, either. They both gave me some very constructive criticism, which I took to heart and decided to make TODAY's interview a different story.

Last night, I wrote out some key messages that I hoped to convey, and I practiced…in my hotel room…in front of a mirror. Yeah, it was silly - but I wanted to work on my delivery and I wanted to do it better.

So…today's interview was scheduled for 1:38 pm in the afternoon…and I had been warned that as tough as I found yesterday's interview, today's would be even TOUGHER. Because I'm now a seasoned professional, you know, after having an additional 24 hours of training. Gah.

Before walking into the studio, I did my best Sun Salutation yoga pose, took a deep breath, and prayed that things would go better. Imagine my delight when I walked in and discovered it would be Anne Ball, AGAIN, who would be doing my interview (there were 4-5 different reporters, so I'm not sure how I lucked out with getting Ms. Ball twice).

The interview began…and what a difference from yesterday. Oh, she did her best to try to get me flustered…but her big mistake was when she began questioning the work ethic and integrity of Red Cross volunteers.

Um, hello.

That's me.

A Red Cross volunteer.

And Mama Bear came out.

Managing to stay calm and level-headed, but allowing my passion for the Red Cross, and my love of my fellow Red Cross volunteers to rise to the surface, I very sweetly and emphatically informed Ms. Ball of just how awesome volunteers are, and how crucial they are to the services we offer. I told her that the volunteers are the HEART of the organization, and they are there because they LOVE what they do.

I am woman. Hear me roar. Or in this case, I am volunteer - hear me roar.

After the interview was over, imagine my shock and surprise when Ms. Ball gave me a huge hug…and told me it had been "amazing." And then - get this - the evaluator gave me a hug.


And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, I bumped into Ms. Ball while leaving the dining hall tonight, on my way back to my hotel room. She approached me and said, "Keep up the good work." I stopped, and we chatted briefly, while she told me that I had done a GREAT job today, and she looked forward to working with me in the future.

Whoa again.


Because she THEN said she had my email address, and she would love to keep in touch with me in the future.

Someone pinch me, please.

Seriously, I have a lot to learn while doing media interviews…but again, I'm a sponge, and I love, love, love the fact that I'm learning new skills and branching into a new life chapter. I am like an eager Karate Kid, seeking my Mr. Miyagi who can teach me to "wax on, wax off" in media training.

In the meantime, as I continue on my journey, I hope all reporters take note, though: Don't EVER question the integrity of a Red Cross volunteer.




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