There is a conventional wisdom when in media interview that the interviewee always address the journalist – and rightly so. At that moment, one is in a dialogical process with the journalist which is then transferred to the public. Journalists as media trainers, as well as professional media trainers, teach this.
However, CB3 has always thought that occasionally a direct appeal to the audience, by addressing the camera, does have some utility. Take for instance the recent prime ministerial debates in the UK. It is widely considered that the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, won the debate and much has be said and written on how he did it. Now, none of the candidates are great orators, and Clegg may have had the advantage of being an unknown underdog, but some have reported that his use of the camera, specifically adrressing it directly, may have gone some way to him ‘connecting’ with the audience.
Although this was in a debate, not a strict media interview, this is a lesson how addressing the camera directly may be beneficial. In interview it is not a recommended tactic but if a heartfelt appeal is to be made to an audience it may be worthwhile considering this direct approach, only briefly, for certain phrases or messages. Journalists may not like it but, from a public affairs or media relations perspective, there is a certain power of connection that can be derived by doing so. It is unconventional and must not be overdone – the context must be right and it is risky – but as they say ‘ do what you’ve always done and you get what you always get’. Think creatively in the conduct of an interview – live on the wild side!
And a little update after the second debate: Lo and behold, David Cameron is now doing it too – if a little more awkwardly!