Meet the Media: Jim Altman of FOX61

 

Jim Altman is a 33-time Emmy Award-winning reporter who joined FOX61 in 2005. Altman has covered most major news events in the state over the past 14 years at Fox as well as hosting his popular weekly travel segment “Daytrippers”. Jim has toured the world on assignment for FOX61 including reporting from the shores of Cuba, to the streets of Ireland, and to the sidelines of the Super Bowl. (via Fox61.com)

Let’s start with a simple one. What is your favorite part about being a television news reporter?

Altman: It is pretty simple…Telling the stories. In our line of work we get to visit a new world each day. You could be in a submarine one day and hang gliding the next…At the State Capitol another day, on the sidelines of the Super Bowl the next. Still, no matter what we are covering, stories are mostly character driven, so meeting the people behind the stories is almost always the most intriguing part.

You are known for your storytelling ability as a reporter, for finding those “off the beaten path” stories and bringing them to light. What is it about those stories that draw you to them?

Altman: There’s no doubt that reporting from the snow bank or a car crash is needed part of what we do but the stories that involve a bit more production value and, perhaps, have more of a unique impact are most special to me. There are so many interesting stories to be told across the state. I think most reporters are drawn to the unique, intriguing topics that people will remember.

What are a few of the favorite stories you’ve done for FOX61 over the years, and why?

Altman: That’s a tough one, there have been so many favorites. Most recently, photographer Sean McKeever and I reported on a quadriplegic patient at the Hospital for Special Care who might not have use of his arms but has become an amazing artist using his mouth to paint. Another favorite experience was our week long reports from Holquin, Cuba which we called “Bats, Balls, Gloves and Goodwill.” A West Hartford kid’s baseball team became the first youth group to play on the exiled Caribbean Island in decades. Those reports from the remote parts of Cuba, where baseball is religion, are among the stories I’m most proud of. I’d also have to give a nod to our “Daytrippers” segments which have pushed envelopes production-wise and let us explore the most “out there” venues around the region. We’ve been able to take the viewers on the aforementioned hang gliding, rappelling, barnstorming, race car driving on snow, flyboarding and we have visited almost every zip line within 200 miles.

You’ve been doing this a while. How has television journalism changed in the years since you started, and do you see that as being good, bad or a little of both?

Altman: It certainly is a little bit of both. The speed of technology can be a great asset but can also leave those in our business in precarious positions if you’re not careful. I try to be as careful as possible. I’ve found that our business struggles with “being first” when the objective is “being accurate.” I think FOX61 does a good job with these technological challenges that didn’t exist when I arrived in CT back in 2005. On the plus side, we can now implement production tactics that can chronicle very compelling pictures to enhance our storytelling. GoPros, and drones, and, yes, even iPhones all have added elements to our visuals on a daily basis that can take already great topics and make them even more memorable.

While you are not from this market originally, you’ve remained in the market for more than 15 years. What is it about Connecticut that has made you want to stay here?

Altman: We live in West Hartford, I realized a few years into this job that we had a good thing here. The area reminds me a bit of Washington, DC where I grew until I was a teenager. Here at FOX61, over the past 15 years, I have been lucky enough to work with a number of talented photographers who have produced so many stories that were great to tell — and there’s has been no shortage interesting stories to report on here. Fifteen years into this, I’m always amped to share the next great topic with the viewers.

The Birth of a Slogan – by Brian Flaherty

On this day, February 10, 1897, page one of The New York Times first carried the slogan, “All the news that’s fit to print,” coined by its owner Adolph Ochs. At the time, the paper sold for a penny.

It may be hard to imagine today, but there was a time when “the news” meant one of two things:

• A daily paper that would arrive once or twice a day on your front porch with a thud—or crash—depending on the aim of your paper carrier

• A nightly evening network newscast—one time: 6:30 pm Eastern; four networks: ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS.

Today, “all the news” can be found among myriad choices on multiple platforms catering to nearly every point of view. But do Americans think it’s fit?

The Pew View: A Nation Divided

Pew Research Center reported last month that no single news source is trusted by a majority of U.S. adults. Pew surveyed over 12,000 adults in late 2019, breaking down the news sources they rely upon to get their news and which ones they trust the most.

• Republicans rely on Fox News to get their news and Democrats rely on CNN the most. That said, GOP respondents rely far more exclusively on Fox than the Democrats do on CNN or any other source.

• Democrats’ trust levels in CNN are on par with Republicans’ trust in Fox.

• Of 30 specific news sources cited in the survey, Democrats expressed trust in 22 of them; Republicans distrusted more than 20 of them.

Does that mean conservatives aren’t watching CNN? Not so, according to Nieman Journalism Lab’s Laura Hazard Owen, in a great analysis tying the Pew report to another survey it conducted in 2014.

That survey showed that 78% of the respondents said they got news “only from outlets they trust or ones they neither trust nor distrust.” No surprise there.

However, conservatives were more willing to hear from another point of view. Some 26% of those with consistently conservative points of view reported consuming news from at least one source that they distrusted—while only 14% of those with consistently liberal points of view reported doing the same.

The Grey Lady Beats a Deadline

To be sure, news-hungry Knickerbockers in 1897 had choices, too. If The Times wasn’t their cup of tea, there was always the New York Journal and The New York Herald.

How fares “The Grey Lady” today?

While the paper’s newsstand price has climbed $2.50, the paper closed 2019 reporting $800 million in digital revenue, reaching that goal—double its 2015 figure—one year ahead of schedule.

As Nieman reported last week, despite a 10 percent drop in online and print advertising revenue, The Times had a banner year.

“The paper of record added 1 million new digital-only subscribers and ended the year with a total of 5.25 million total subscriptions across all of their digital and print products. Both were new records for the paper.”

Nieman’s Sarah Scire quoted CEO Mark Thompson on the paper’s year-end earnings, saying the key to success was “the decision to give more autonomy to teams working on the publication’s various digital products.”

And signifying good news for veteran crossword-builder, successful publican and Fairfield University alum Joe DiPietro, The Times gained some 40,000 crossword subscriptions in 2019.

Incidentally, when Ochs debuted “All the news that’s fit to print” on this day 123 years ago, the paper offered a $100 prize to anyone who could come up with a better slogan of 10 words or less.

To date, no one has.

Being First Isn’t More Important Than Being Right – by Chris Zaccaro

The tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, along with several others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA, made Sunday a sad day for all of us.

It also offered a reminder of the problem of reporting or spreading news too quickly, before the facts are in, regardless of whether it’s right or not.

For me it started with a text message from a friend.

“You see Kobe? Died in a helicopter crash. Wow.”

I flipped on the radio to find the UConn game had just concluded in Hartford and the station had not yet begun its coverage of what would be an all-consuming story the rest of the day. But just a few minutes later, after a sudden interruption during a commercial break, the tragic news was confirmed—Kobe Bryant, only 41, had died in a helicopter crash in California.

That’s all I knew at that point. It hit hard and I was stunned.

Soon after that I reached my destination, a local pizza bar, where I was able to silently watch the news during that first hour trickle in on TV and flood in on social media. All sorts of rumors about the crash—tweets, posts and text messages came coursing through my phone.

The conflicting information unfortunately reminded me of another sad time—Sandy Hook. I always use that awful day as a reminder not to take any rumors as fact, as there are those out there trying to be the first to report something or non-journalists acting like they know something.

On Sunday, the first half-hour started with rumors that former-Laker Rick Fox was also on the helicopter. “Oh man,” I thought.

The second half-hour started with rumors that all of Kobe’s children were on the flight.

“Oh God no,” I, along with many others, prayed.

Moments later, it was said to be two of his kids.

The world later found out that one of his children was on board, as well as other parents and teammates. Nine people in all. They were on their way to a travel basketball game. It was heartbreaking news to hear.

Late Sunday, during a press conference with the LA County Fire Chief and Sheriff, it was implied that the families of Bryant and the other passengers learned about the fate of their loved ones from TMZ, before they could be formally and appropriately notified. I can only imagine the false rumors they came across in panicked text messages and calls they received, as they began to deal with the worst day of their lives. I hope they were able to turn their phones off.

We live in a world where we watch everything play out in real time. In some cases, like sporting events, that’s a gift. In others, like when we all watched together as Notre Dame Cathedral burned in Paris or whenever news of another mass shooting hits the airwaves, we pause to look, listen and try to learn more.

When things like this happen, the rush to get the news first often seems to supersede the need to get it right. And this doesn’t apply only to legacy media outlets, but to anyone in the digital realm who offers, repeats or shares news that has not yet been confirmed.

It’s true, numerous reporting errors were made in the past, long before the real-time digital age, in that same rush to be first. But it almost seems to be encouraged today—in a get it out there, correct it later sense—and that doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s during developing, tragic instances like these that we need to be mindful of spreading information that we know nothing about.

False information is always going to be out there, but when it comes to breaking news—particularly tragic cases—pause, hope or pray for the best—then wait for the facts.

You’ll NEVER get an edit option on Twitter – by Chris Zaccaro

If you want to know if changes are coming in an organization, there’s no better way to find out than to ask the head honcho. Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey recently took part in a Q&A video where he shared some background on his famous platform (my personal favorite), as well as his thoughts on common suggestions for the networking service—including the headline question:

“What about the addition of an edit option?”

First, here’s some quick and interesting tidbits from the interview:

• As I’m sure you know, the Twitter logo is a bird. Well, the bird’s name is Larry—and yes, it’s named after #33. Sorry, Larry David.
• Twitter originally started with a 140 character limit so a tweet could fit into one text message.
• The company’s founders also liked how the platform’s sometimes frustrating limitation sparked creativity among users, as it forced folks to find a way to squeeze their message in.
• Of course later on the character limit was doubled and then the “thread” feature became available, so now we’re not really constrained anymore, according to Dorsey. Yes, even Twitter has its own version of the good old days.

I’ve been on Twitter for almost a decade now, and the most common wish/complaint I see among the Tweeps, especially content creators and journalists, is the lack of an edit option. According to Dorsey, that’s probably never going to happen. His reasoning being that it could set users up for re-broadcasting something they never intended to share.

Imagine if I gained a hundred retweets after tweeting “Chicago pizza is trash compared to New Haven pizza,” only to later edit it to say “Chicago is the Pizza Capital of the World!” No one would have retweeted me as they don’t share that opinion—and I would make them look like they have no idea what they’re talking about, too. After all, pizza is Connecticut’s greatest natural resource.

That reasoning makes sense, I suppose. You will just need to keep being mindful of what you type and be sure to proofread before you send your tweet out to the world.

By the way, if you happen to watch Dorsey’s interview, he mentions you can direct message a member of his team—the Verification God (he even provides his handle)—and he’ll probably hook you up with the coveted blue verified badge—Twitter’s own Good Housekeeping Seal of Verification. Since then, that unfortunate fella, who was probably bombarded with direct messages for days, has updated his bio to say he is, in fact, decidedly NOT a Verification God and won’t be able to verify you. Nice prank Dorsey—don’t bother with that strategy, folks.

Until next time…

Tuesday Tip: Sometimes the Simplest Message Can Resonate the Most

In public relations, there’s often a very common formula for success. It looks like this:

Simplicity = Perfection

I was thinking about this over the weekend as I began to see reminders that next month marks the 40th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice.” The seemingly impossible victory of the young U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey Team over the seemingly unbeatable (and four-time defending gold medal champion) Soviet Union team in Lake Placid, NY on February 22, 1980 during the Winter Olympics.

We’ll likely hear more about the amazing upset win as the 40th anniversary draws even closer in the weeks to come, but for anyone who saw that game (on tape-delay, of course, because it wasn’t broadcast live), has watched it since or has ever read anything about it, no doubt the first thing that comes to mind are ABC Sports’ Al Michaels’ epochal words when the victory was finally achieved:

“Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

It was only six words, uttered in about two seconds. But nothing—not the essays and columns written about the game in the days and weeks to come, not the countless interviews with players, not the numerous documentaries done on the team or even a major motion picture could ever capture the essence of that team or the run it went on to win the gold medal better than that. Nothing. Every inch of the journey, the struggle, the improbability, the teamwork, the camaraderie, the national swell of pride that grew around that team could be summed up in those six words.

That’s perfection. And it’s a great lesson for public relations endeavors as well.

Here’s an example. We have a client that is a leading senior care provider in Connecticut, and they had a wonderful story a little more than a year ago of a gentleman who was finally able to return home after nearly two years in their care. He returned home at Christmastime, making good on a wish he had made earlier in the year.

And that is exactly how we pitched the story to a local TV station: “Home for the holidays.” Four words that everyone could understand, empathize with and appreciate. The pitch was well-received and right before Christmas, the station was able to air a report of this gentleman’s journey home, entitled (of course) “Home for the Holidays.” And it was a wonderful and moving story that made people feel good.

Sometimes even the best of us can wrack our brains for just the right message or pitch, and we can make ourselves crazy trying to think it up. When all along something as simple as, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” or “Home for the holidays” is right there in front of us.

So today’s lesson is a simple one. Trust in the power of simplicity. Sometimes it’s exactly what people need to see and hear.

YouTube: America’s Most-Used Platform – by Chris Zaccaro

A recent report from the Pew Research Center laid out 10 facts about Americans and YouTube that provided helpful insights that could potentially be valuable to you if you are looking to create more video content for your website or social media channels.

For one (and as we’ve mentioned here before on the Pros From Dover blog), YouTube is the most used social media platform in the country, just beating out Facebook. Of course, unlike YouTube, a large chunk of Facebook’s content doesn’t focus on gaming.

Ever notice your younger family members watching YouTube videos of other kids playing video games? Weird right?

They’re watching videos that make up an astounding “18% of the English-language videos posted by popular YouTube channels.” However, there is something deeper going on when it comes to kids consuming this type of content…

Now you may not be in the video game market, but you may be trying to market your product or services to children and their parents. If that’s the case, according to the report, you should feature children in your videos. Move over cats because it doesn’t matter if you’re producing content specifically for children or general audiences, the content that features kids under the age of 13 receives significantly more views than content without kids. YouTube is also now asking all creators to identify videos made for kids, which will “disable personalized ads, comments, live chat and other features.”

Another great way to gain views from adults is to produce “how to” content. According to a 2018 survey, “half of U.S. adults who use YouTube say the site is very important when it comes to figuring out how to do things they haven’t done before.”

You will receive no argument here! If it wasn’t for YouTube, there’s no way I would have installed my own garbage disposal.

But “how to” content doesn’t always have to be focused on home repair. If you’re in finance, explain to your audience how different savings accounts work. If you’re in healthcare, explain how to properly care for a wound or perform CPR. If you’re in real estate, explain how to properly stage a home or when the best time to buy or sell is.

See where I’m going with this? You’re an expert in something and people are actively searching for expertise.

The final useful nugget I’ll point out from this report is the fact that “a small number of videos generate the majority of views.” Many times small business owners upload videos to YouTube or their website and expect it to become a viral sensation, racking up thousands of views by the end of the week. That is simply not realistic if you’re just getting started with this medium—and not gaining thousands of views is not indicative of your abilities as a content creator. As long as you are seeing steady growth, driving engagement and hitting your target audiences, you could be on the right track. Stick with it—you’ll need to—because as you probably know by now, Video Content is King and likely will be for the foreseeable future.

“I still get excited when I see her.” – by Dan Tapper

“I still get excited when I see her.”

That was said about Denise D’Ascenzo, as I stood with a small group of people at a 2010 free dental clinic event in Middletown. But it wasn’t said by one of the hundreds of clinic attendees who were standing in line when Denise arrived; it was said by one of Denise’s colleagues, a WFSB-Channel 3 reporter.

The free dental clinic was and still is a huge annual event; this one held at the massive former Aetna campus in Middletown. Each year this clinic draws upwards of 2,000 people over the span of one weekend, some of whom come from literally hundreds of miles away for free dental care. For many years Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations, Inc. coordinated the media relations for the clinic, and Channel 3 was the clinic’s media partner in those days. This meant in addition to PSAs and interviews and traditional coverage, Channel 3 would send on-air talent to volunteer at the clinic, and that’s what was happening that day when two Channel 3 reporters and I watched Denise approach.

As Denise walked up she stopped frequently to shake the hands of the people who were waiting in the long lines to get in for the free dental care, smiling and talking with them as if she’d known them for years. And for many of them, I’m sure they felt they had in fact known her for years.

“I still get excited when I see her.”

That struck me then, that one of her colleagues held Denise as such a figure of awe and respect that she chose to utter these words out loud. I understood it completely, because I think so many looked at her that way. Someone whose very presence excited us, lifted us and elevated any room she was in.

And those words strike even more strongly today, as so many of us are reeling from the shocking news of Denise’s sudden and unexpected passing this past Saturday at the age of 61. Connecticut has lost a media icon to be sure, the very best at what she did during the 33 years she did it here. And we’ve lost so much more.

By now I have seen dozens of spectacular tributes to Denise written and aired by friends, colleagues and admirers, many of whom knew her far better than I did. And those tributes talk about her unbending class and effortless grace she brought onto the air and into people’s homes every night. They talk of her beautiful family and how they always came first to her. They talk about her kindness, her commitment to doing her job the right way, her mentorship of so many of her colleagues and of her delightful sense of humor. I saw most of those traits firsthand in the years I knew her, including the humor. One night a few years ago after a formal gala which Denise emceed, she and my wife—both graduates of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School—serenaded me with their school’s alma mater. It was silly and lovely.

There’s one more part of who Denise was that was truly a gift to everyone in Connecticut, something I saw on display that day in Middletown as she worked the line of patients as they waited their turn.

She listened. Denise D’Ascenzo listened to what people said, and it mattered to her.

You could tell it when you watched her interview people. You could tell it when you spoke to her individually, when she would make it clear there was nothing in that moment more important to her than what you were saying. Despite all of the personal accolades and acclaim she had rightly earned in her career, what people had to say to Denise D’Ascenzo seemed to matter as much to her as what she had to say to them. What a gift.

Listening, after all, is one of the most basic and essential tools in journalism and, really, all forms of communications. Communications at its core doesn’t exist without one person saying something and another person hearing what is said; if that second component isn’t there, it’s all just noise. I recall very early in my career as a newspaper reporter—probably in my first week—getting this advice from a co-worker as I somewhat nervously prepared to go cover to one of my first stories:

“Remember to listen carefully and write down what you hear. The first responsibility of a good reporter is to be a good listener—everything else comes from there.”

Denise D’Ascenzo, a journalist without peer in Connecticut, understood that as well as anyone. And she seemed to understand that it didn’t just apply to her time on the air, but to her time with everyone she encountered.  When you watched her on TV you felt she was talking directly to you. And when you talked with her one-on-one she made you feel like the most important person in the world. It’s something special for a journalist to possess that ability. It’s even more of a gift for that person to apply it to every other facet of her life.

The state mourns the loss of a friend today, but we also say thank you to Denise D’Ascenzo. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us for the past 33 years, for telling Connecticut’s stories as few ever have. And just as much, Denise, we thank you for listening. To all of us.

Tuesday Tip: Don’t Get Angry, Get Strategic! – by Dan Tapper

Several years ago we had a client that had an issue with certain regulatory bodies and they were feeling a lot of pressure—an investigation was taking place, some wrongdoing had occurred (and been addressed) and the media had gotten wind of it. This client worked in the human services field, serving a vulnerable population, so it was a sensitive area.

This client was livid at the way it thought it was being treated by these regulatory bodies, and told us they wanted to “fight back,” to turn the tables on the ones who were investigating them; to publicly accuse them of being unfair, punitive and biased.

We heard them out and said we understood. Then we told them—as strongly as we could—that they should not do this.

What would lashing out get them, aside from momentarily feeling better for having done it? What would be the point of publicly taking on an investigator, particularly with a vulnerable population at the heart of the matter? If anything, it could have made things move from bad to worse, which is the last thing anyone wanted and the least strategic move they could make.

What to do?

The better strategy would be to communicate key messages in the strongest way possible to the most important audiences. Make it clear that their top priority was working cooperatively with authorities to protect the population being served.

Could the messages be strong? Of course. Could our client defend itself without acting in accusatory manner? Definitely. And they could do so, absent of anger or spite, keeping focus on the welfare of the people they served, rather than engaging in a personal attack on the regulatory bodies.

We have found it always best, when working with clients who have issues to manage, to view the situation the way an objective third party would. That way the emotion can be detached and the situation can be seen with an unjaundiced eye. Again, getting angry might feel good in the short term, but it can have disastrous results long-term.

The client took our advice and the issue faded from the public eye soon enough, with all matters well-resolved. They weren’t wrong to feel angry, but when dealing with a public issue, their strategy had to go beyond that. It may be difficult, but more often than not it pays dividends.

So don’t get angry, at least not in public, even though every impulse inside you may be screaming for you to do that. It’s a far better idea to get strategic!

Tuesday Tip: Be Prepared for Your Next Event by Utilizing After Action Reviews – by Chris Zaccaro

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is the noblest, Second: by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucius

As you can imagine, planning and managing media events for our clients is big part of the gig here at Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations, Inc. We do it pretty well thanks to two factors: experience and preparation.

With over thirty years of existence as a public relations firm, experience obviously plays a huge part in our success. We’ve seen it all. But the true root of our success comes from our preparation. As Colin Powell said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”

Whether the event you managed was a success or total bomb, the job shouldn’t end when you pack up the car. A post-project assessment, an After Action Review to be specific, will always help you with your preparation for the next event—or really any other kind of project.

An After Action Review is a simple method where you get your team together for an honest and open discussion to review and document:
• What went well
• What went wrong
• What you can do in the future to repeat what went well
• What you can do in the future to prevent the same mistakes from happening again

There are a couple of different ways you can document your After Action Review—a simple Google search will provide you options and templates. But know that documenting and storing this process is imperative and it needs to be done within a week of your event. Or else you and your teammates may possibly forget what could be valuable insights for your next project.

What I have found is that this process really helps with remembering the little things that can make a big difference. Such as:

• Remembering to have a water for each speaker at the podium before a media event begins. You don’t want to realize too late and become a distraction as you bring them up while your event is in progress. Or even worse, as your client is desperately searching for a drink during a coughing fit.

• Remembering to take note of where an event is happening and what the conditions may be. If you’re hosting an event outside on a really hot day, you may want to look into remedies for cooling your audience off—like electric fans, a tent or cold refreshments.

• Or remembering to have a solid understanding of how many people will be attending your event so you don’t put out too few or even too many chairs. There’s nothing worse than having a good turnout look like a bad turnout because you put out too many chairs.

Those are just three small instances of many, many instances that could impact your event. Our preparation has helped us in preventing small mistakes like these from happening at our clients’ events and After Action Reviews can help you too.

Of course, you could always just contact Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations and let us handle your event for you. We are prepared for that.

Sage Advice from Tom Andrea on Dressing for a TV Interview – by Chris Zaccaro

Many of the questions we receive from clients before they go into a TV interview revolve around what to wear.

Luckily for us here at Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations we have Tom Andrea, our Strategic Partner who has more than 30 years of public relations experience and is known for his impeccable wardrobe. In 2011 Tom was named one of the region’s best-dressed individuals by Hartford Magazine. In this week’s Tuesday Tip, we ask Tom some of the more common questions clients ask and what advice he would provide them.

Tom Andrea, Strategic Partner at Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations

What should clients be thinking about when picking out their outfit before a television interview?

Tom Andrea: First of all, the clothes you wear should not out-do your message. Make sure you’re not bringing more attention to your outfit than what you’re saying, because then people will miss the interview.

What should I be thinking about in terms of colors or patterns?

Tom Andrea: Don’t let your clothes “holler” at the viewer—meaning stay away from big stripes, big florals, bright colors and multi-patterns. Stay away from plaids. Your colors should be muted—quiet and soft. Also, your clothes should look neat—there’s nothing worse than having a suit or dress that is wrinkled or not properly tailored.

What if I wear a uniform to work? Should I wear that?

Tom Andrea: Yes, if the interview is about your line of work. It shows pride in what you do and the organization you’re affiliated with. But if you’re being interviewed for personal reasons outside of work, like a volunteer role, it’s appropriate to wear clothing that represents the association you volunteer for.

Should I be more concerned with how I look or comfort?

Tom Andrea: I think you should be concerned about both, it should be about comfort and how it wears on you. In this day in age of dressing down, it’s still important to dress up for an interview. Remember that the anchors that are interviewing you are dressed up, you should look the same as they do.

The only time I think you don’t have to worry about your appearance is if you’re doing an interview during a hurricane or something. Then, obviously, you need to protect yourself from the elements. But there are no such elements within a TV studio!

Speaking of hurricanes or major events like that, what if the interview is set to take place outside in cold weather?

Tom Andrea: The location of the interview doesn’t make a difference—you’re still representing yourself and the organization you’re associated with. If you’re outside in cold weather doing an interview, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing a heavy coat, scarf and gloves—even a hat if you have to. Just make sure you look professional.

What are some things that studio guests commonly forget about or realize right before an interview?

Tom Andrea: I find women have this down pat a lot more than men. I’ve had clients who need help straightening their ties before going on camera. You should make sure your jacket or coat is buttoned properly.

I’ve seen many people dressed well for an interview, but their grooming did a disservice to their clothing preparation. There’s a lot to be said for combed hair and, for men, a clean shaven appearance. That will benefit you on camera.

Studios usually have makeup and wardrobe rooms for anchors, reporters and even guests. Don’t hesitate to ask if you can use them and feel free to bring in your own combs, brushes, makeup or whatever to do some last minute prep before the cameras roll.

By the way, I think the same rules apply when your photo is being taken to accompany a print piece about you or your organization. Impressions do matter.

Any other useful tips for anybody that may have a TV interview coming up?

Tom Andrea: Your look should complement the anchor that’s interviewing you. Beforehand, view the TV station that you’re going to appear on so you can get a look and feel for how the anchors are dressing.

In case there is a long or wide shot of you sitting or standing, make sure your shoes and socks reinforce your professionalism and compliment the outfit that you’re wearing by being clean and in good shape. One of the worst fashion developments is this new trend of wearing a suit with sneakers. Leave the sneakers in the gym bag and bring a nice pair of clean, polished shoes with you.

Another new trend is very colorful socks. If you’re not the sock maker or trying to sell that product, keep your socks in line with your outfit. This goes back to one of my original points. Colorful, bouncy socks with a muted suit will bring too much attention to your ankles and the viewers will be focused on that and not what you’re saying.