Skype to Success

Students today often “meet” with college counselors via Skype. I have interviewed candidates for positions in my office via Skype. I use Skype to set up interviews between experts and reporters.

Skype is an application that allows you to video chat or conduct voice calls from computers, tablets and mobile devices.  Calls are free or low-cost, which makes the application especially invaluable for global conversations.

Skype is a great tool, but if you have not used it, you will want to practice.

A few tips to keep in mind:

Look at the camera, not the screen. The best way to ensure that you do this is to put a sticky note beside the camera that reads, “Look here!” Otherwise, you will be looking down throughout the interview.

Don’t think out loud. This seems obvious, but because the person is not in the room with you, it’s easy to form your thoughts out loud and then begin to answer the question that was asked.  Unfortunately, the person interviewing also heard you thinking out loud.  You do want to make all the key points you would if you were in the room with the interviewer.

Don’t overuse certain words. We all have words we use too frequently, and you will want to be cognizant of that during your Skype call. Overusing “like,” “you know,” and “exactly” will become noticeable and annoying during the call.

Answer questions concisely and directly. Once you have answered the question, stop speaking. Even if there is a pause, wait for the other person to acknowledge your answer or ask the next question. You do not need to fill the silence.

Avoid distractions. You will want a background that is professional. Silence your phone and move to a room that is not near street traffic or an elevator.

If you would like some great tips for mastering a television Skype interview, check out this blog by my colleague Cameron McPherson of The Hodges Partnership.

Content Is King

Today everybody is a content expert.

DSCN2216“Years ago we used to just call that communications,” said Jon Newman of the The Hodges Partnership. He was speaking to a group of PR practitioners about how content is king.

He challenged the audience to consider several questions, including:

  • How are we going to spread out the content?
  • How are we going to manage it?
  • Where are audiences getting the content?
  • What is competing for their attention?

Newman cited one study that said 90 percent of information comes from screens, whether it’s a computer, tablet or smartphone. People spend 4.4 hours of leisure time in front of screens.

“Think about what that means for your content,” he said.

One of the challenges for many is that with all the screens, more content is needed. Jon challenges that notion and suggests that most of us actually have more content than we realize. His recommendation is to conduct a content audit. One way to track is to use an editorial calendar. At least 20 percent of your content should be original and the rest can be from other sources. “Then it doesn’t look like you’re simply selling or pushing your content,” he says.

Once you know your sources of content and you know that people are using more screens, think about how you deliver the content. It’s okay to repeat content on different platforms because someone who follows you on Twitter may not read your blog. Sharing content visually is important, too, especially on screens. Most importantly, content must break through the clutter – quality counts.