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In today’s world of digital media, the everyday person with a passion, completely untrained in professional journalism has the ability to write and share content, and generate large followings by way of blogging, creating YouTube videos and more. But now professional journalists at traditional media outlets are taking a cue from these folks and leveraging the same tactics to engage and extend the reach of their audiences too.

If you were to read a celebrity cover story from a magazine like Glamour or Women’s Health, you’ll read exactly what pieces of the interview the editors selected to be most interesting to their readers. They’ve sharpened the content and likely eliminated the personal side banter the celebrity and editor had prior to jumping in on the “official” discussion. If the celebrity is promoting a new project or campaign, it’s typically going to be a very short part of the final article. But what if the readers of these articles could join that initial interview conversation? What if they could hear it all and even participate by commenting and asking their own questions? Well, now they can!

Insert Facebook Live – a new approach to a traditional media interview that enables followers to watch the interview take place and participate by commenting or asking questions. This approach invites listeners, viewers and readers alike to influence the interview and keep it interesting to the audience. This also gives media outlets an opportunity to maximize time spent with interview subjects and offer exclusive digital content.

Cat Greenleaf of NBC’s Talk Stoop recently spoke to Bill Nye live via Facebook, while viewers connected personally to Candance Cameron Bure, who spoke to Good Housekeeping via Facebook Live about her past struggles with bulimia. The TODAY show brought viewers behind the scenes of broadcasts at the Rio Olympics while TIME magazine used the Facebook Live approach to honor and celebrate Julia Child at the time of her would-be 104th birthday.

So how does the use of Facebook Live in media interviews impact us on the public relations side? As with any new media relations approach, there are risks related to putting your client in this type of live comment and Q&A environment, but the risks can be managed. A Facebook Live interview audience is likely to be more engaged, however, the audience of can-be-journalists are not trained in journalism and are actively participating in the media interview by submitting questions and comments public to any viewer.

Here’s how to navigate to ensure a positive, engaging and on-message interview via Facebook Live:

  • Watch the clock: Agree with the media outlet conducting the interview ahead of time to keep the time between 20-30 minutes. This will allow for the interview to be personal, yet not go completely off track.
  • Partner on shared content: See if the media outlet is willing to share your campaign website with followers and commenters during the live interview. This will keep viewer discussion on track and ensure attention to your cause.
  • Monitor the comments and questions live: It’s critical that the PR team is carefully tracking viewer comments and questions to nip anything negative or off-track in the bud and to keep the outlet from asking that particular viewer question live during the interview.
  • Act as co-producer: Sit next to the actual producer. Literally, right next to them. Be close enough to just tap them on the shoulder and point out questions posted on the comments section that you don’t want to be asked live during the interview.
  • Have fun: A Facebook Live interview is intended to be lighter and more personal than an interview landing in a print piece. Urge your spokespeople to have fun and open up. While a print outlet like Good Housekeeping may be conducting the interview, it needs to be planned out like a lifestyle television broadcast: visual, entertaining, and lighthearted.

Most important of all is to get on board! As traditional media outlets continue to fold, those still standing have likely latched on to digital tactics to keep their audiences intact. Facebook Live is the new way traditional outlets are extending their following, and managing success in this area will only keep us on the PR side ready for the next digital method to arrive.

 

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