Gmail Chat for PR: My Interview Tool of Choice


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In the traditional media world, once an interview has kicked off, there is only so much the PR hack can do to keep it humming along smoothly — short of pulling a fire alarm if things start to go off the rails. What would be ideal is a silent method of real-time communication, available from anywhere, that enables instant on-point advice and message coaching… But wait! There’s Gmail.

I handled a national media interview recently with something of a nervous nellie client (as she’d call herself); well-prepped for the session, she was still more than a little anxious. It mattered tremendously for her to come off as an articulate expert, no matter what curveball was thrown, and we had reason to believe that the journalist might lob a surprise or two.

You can’t hide from tough questions (without it being painfully obvious), but part of being as open as new media demands is being well-armed for a friendly battle. And my favorite in-interview weapon is Gmail chat, which allows me to calm, advise, direct, and coach a client without obnoxiously butting into the audible conversation. Here’s how it works best:

  • Before the interview, have a last preparatory chat about the topic, reviewing the key message points you want to convey. TIP: have and discuss short titles for these concepts — two to three word summaries that will jog the memory in the moment.
  • During the interview, the PR person should introduce him or herself and then, preferably, shut up. As one reporter said on a recent interview, “Oh, Kate’s here to make sure you stay on message.” True enough, but if I’m doing my job, I look more like a butler than a gatekeeper.
  • As infrequently as possible, chat in little snippets about what’s going on. Little bursts of encouragement (“Great answer”) can do wonders for confidence, and those key message titles (“On-point: speed to market”) can help correct an answer that may have started to drift off course. TIP: Keep it brief. The last thing you want is for the interviewee to miss a question because she was too busy reading some brilliant PR advice.

The best part? Silent backup with chat protects the image of the client as a knowledgeable communicator — without leaving them out there, twisting in the wind. On occasions like these, the best PR is the PR that isn’t noticeable at all.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kate Schackai
Kate combines a technical understanding of web 2.0 with classic PR savvy, resulting in online communications that both humans and Google love. She joins Crawford from WordPress development firm TCWebsite, where she worked in online marketing and search engine optimization.


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