How to Identify Your Television “Storyteller”August 6, 2019 | By: Anna Patrick
For most travel destinations, the opportunity for one of your executives to stand up in front of a television camera, to tell your destination’s story to a national audience, is rare. But when you do have the chance to address the national viewers on ABC’s Good Morning America or NBC’s Today, you need a camera-ready spokesperson.
While becoming a renown organizational storyteller, like those found at Apple and Warby Parker, is unlikely, the art of storytelling in front of the camera is achievable. It can be learned and perfected.
If you are a travel destination considering fostering a TV spokesperson for the first time, you will first want to decide on the story you want to tell. Does it have what it takes to win a TV spot? The story should be newsworthy, timely, or entertaining—at least, two out of three will enhance your ability to garner a producer’s attention. And since we are talking about the visual platform par excellence, your story should be one that the camera will love.
If your story gets a definite checkmark on each of those items, then as a travel public relations professional, you need to ask yourself, who is your strongest destination storyteller—or who could master that important role? While you may have a destination organization CEO who exudes confidence, your best television spokesperson might actually be the well-spoken 20-something whose “day job” is supporting your destination’s digital marketing efforts. As a travel public relations professional, you should be open to finding a spokesperson who viewers will relate to and trust.
How do you go about selecting that spokesperson? How do you go about helping that person, if necessary, to master appealing and effective on-screen performance? And how do you set the stage for success? Here are a few tips.
Screen your candidates
Whether formally or informally, you are screening your candidates for several indispensable qualifications:
- Mastery of the topic—and a passion for it. Your destination spokesperson should know thoroughly, almost as “second nature,” the messages you want to get across and be able to talk about them with ease and confidence. Lively examples should come readily to their mind. They should be ready with fast facts to support the points that they make. If they have a personal tie to the topic, even better. It is this human element and a passion for the topic that conveys the sense of conviction and authentic enthusiasm you want to see on the screen.
- Authenticity that comes across in tone, gesture, movement. The importance of authenticity cannot be overemphasized. The television camera is punishing to insincerity, fakery or bluff. Your destination spokesperson’s tone has to lend energy and excitement to their words, a sense of personal engagement. Their tone will be reinforced naturally by vocal inflection, gestures and body language. A spokesman’s most subtle moves in the intense setting created by the TV camera can animate the entire discussion to support a point of view.
Provide media training
There may be media “naturals” for the role of storyteller, and certainly you will have selected your spokesperson for some of those qualities. But the art of pleasing the TV camera and its tough audience also can be honed and perfected.
The presence of the camera always creates its own dynamic between the reporter/interviewer and the guest telling the story. If you can identify a destination spokesperson who is comfortable in the on-camera setting, that is ideal, of course. But even the most capable person will have to practice and should be eager to do so. The best preparation is plenty of practice answering questions of all kinds, including some that may be challenging—or even traps set for bluffs. If authenticity is the byword—your spokesperson should talk about what they know and redirect what they don’t know.
What guides your destination spokesperson once on camera? The only thing that matters in the end is the audience. Whether the audience is a single interviewer or a crowded studio, any signs of lagging interest—or just lack of excitement—should trigger a midstream adjustment. When the audience isn’t getting the story being told, the spokesperson is challenged to try a new tack. Comedians do it. Evangelists do it. Salesmen do it. The artful storyteller will not plow ahead “on script,” ignoring the cues. It’s time for them to ask the audience a question. Change tone of voice. Even speak a little more softly to force listeners to pay attention. Just change the pace.
When you have found the right travel destination spokesperson, and both of you–from different sides of the camera–has gone through some on-camera “episodes,” additional stories will suggest themselves as a matter of course. Confident that the stories will be well told, you will begin to see television stories everywhere. And if your spokesperson has “the right stuff,” TV producers will welcome (with aggressive proactive pitching efforts, of course) the opportunity for the story.
A picture paints a thousand words, to your efforts to tell your story on camera are worth the effort!
DCI is a leading travel PR and economic-development marketing agency that works with its destination clients to increase visitor and business inquiries for communities across the globe. Contact us for information about the range of public relations services to support your objectives.
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