This is the top of an email someone sent me. When I read “SATELLITE INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY” surrounded by eight stars, I did not assume this was a golden opportunity. Interviewing someone via satellite isn’t necessarily cool. I would prefer to interview someone locally face-to-face. Simply the word “satellite” did not make me feel one step closer to imagining myself as a correspondent with The Today Show.
I’m not sure why the person who crafted this email considered it important to put “SATELLITE INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY” at the top of the email. With the stars, we’re only missing some neon. Many journalists see satellite dishes nearly every day on top of their buildings. Someone offering reporters the opportunity to use one firsthand is like offering free tickets to a professional athlete.
The worst part about most satellite interviews is they usually provide you with nothing more than a talking head. After the interview, you rarely get an opportunity to shoot video of the subject to add visuals and audio that help bring a story to life. Plus this interview was available on one particular day during a certain time period. Journalists don’t typically work well around other people’s schedules.
I arranged satellite interviews as a last option. But they don’t always go off without a flaw. Too often I found myself tracking down ten people at a station to ensure someone in the building properly set up and recorded the interview. It’s not as if some techno genius pumps the satellite feed right into a journalist’s desk computer. I eventually dropped satellite interviews and instead went with Skype or even a basic, recorded phone conversation with someone’s head shot placed on a graphic. The recorded phone interview doesn’t come packaged with much flair, but it’s easy, quick and provided far fewer problems.
You might be thinking, “Why are you so against pitching satellite interviews? I see them all the time on morning news shows.” That’s true. Both those satellite interviews typically involve Hollywood stars, a political pundit or someone who shot the latest YouTube viral video. The email I received was an opportunity to interview a master plumber/contractor. I like my chances of finding someone similar locally.
Opportunity only knocks once, but plastering “SATELLITE INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY” at the top of the pitch won’t encourage most journalists to answer your email.