Sound bites consist of a short audio or visual clip that is meant to sum up, promote or exemplify an extended audio or visual piece. It is meant to entice the viewer to learn more about the topic. Sound bites can be a great form of publicity or a nightmare if used indiscriminately by the media. It is impossible to completely avoid the misuse or manipulation of sound bites but you can try to lessen the opportunity for negative outcomes by taking the following steps:
- Be concise with your answers during an interview. The more you draw out an answer, the more footage the producer has to review which could result in editing your message incorrectly. The producer may not know your key ideas unless you shared them prior to the interview. Once the interview is complete, the producer is concerned with editing for the amount of minutes they have in the broadcast. Unfortunately, they do not have time to call you and ask about your main ideas. Make it easy on yourself and everyone by keeping your answers brief.
- Provide the producer with a short summary of your information. You can email it prior to the interview. Some producers are also okay if you send interview questions or talking points. Ask first to get approval. They may not use the questions directly, but it gives them an idea of your overall objective.
- Try to keep your answers positive or framed in a positive manner even if the topic is negative or approaching a crisis mode. Sound bites can be used during the evening to lead up to a late night broadcast and these days, media uses a sort of fear factor approach in getting viewers for it broadcasts. That’s the business so don’t be offended. If you keep your responses positive or upbeat, it could lessen the chances of them being used inappropriately.
Sound bites can be your friend or your freenimie. Don't let this scare you off of doing interviews. Most likely you will not have a negative experience at all. But just in case, these tips should help minimize your exposure.