PIO Interviews - Part II

Most of the time the department’s Public Information Officer should do the interviews, they are the department spokesperson.


WIRELESS LAPEL MICROPHONES are usually used for interviews close-up. They will put a wireless transmitter hidden somewhere on your, usually clipped to your belt, and the microphone will be put on your lapel, tie, somewhere close to your mouth. The receiver can either be on the camera or in the media vehicle, which is parked close by.

After the interview is completed, remember to take the microphone off and hand it back to the reporter. Sometimes the media will "accidentally forget" to take it off and you walk away. A few minutes later you are talking to the Incident Commander and they are still able to hear what is being said either through the camera or in the media vehicle.

Another trick is "mic you up" and do the interview. Sometime during the interview they will stop and say they need to go back to the truck to get something (like a fresh battery) and will finish the interview in a few minutes. While the interview is stopped, they will let the camera continue rolling. Although they are not getting any images, the tape is still recording audio. I have had media crews try to do this to me several times, you should beware.

SHOTGUN MICROPHONES - Although shotgun mics are not new, the technology has gotten better. Shotguns are used for long distance hearing. Very rarely are they used for close-up interviews. Usually seen on the camera near the handle on top, these are very long narrow microphones. They can pick up conversations from great distances. What you should be aware of is these can, in some cases, pick up your conversation while talking to the Incident Commander or investigators. Usually the camera will be pointed in the direction of what they want to hear. Although what is heard will not be used, it does give the reporter ideas for new questions. Very sensitive issues should be communicated inside a vehicle with the doors closed and windows up.

THE "TWO SHOT"

Many times after an interview is completed, the cameraperson and reporter may say they want to do a "two shot." In the two shot, the camera is put behind you so they can see the back of your head and the reporter's face. While the two shot is being done, the reporter may make light conversation about anything just to keep you talking. Sometimes the two shot is used to insert conversation that was audio taped while the camera while not pointed at you. Remember the wireless mic being sometimes "accidentally" left on you. While you walk away, or they went back to the truck to get something, you might say something that you would not have said during the interview. Once again, if they asked you if it was all right to ask you questions, anything from that point on can be used. If you put the word in the box, it can be used.

TELEPHONE INTERVIEWS

Telephone interviews are usually done by radio stations and the print media. Only in extreme cases will television media do telephone interviews. During a telephone interview, you should ALWAYS assume your conversation is being recorded, especially by radio stations. ANYTHING you say during the conversation with a radio station can be used. You should also assume the conversation is live. Telephone conversations are usually pretty easy to do, you must know your subject in advance and think about what you are going to say before saying it.

Radio stations have a difficult time talking with PIOs during working incidents and yet they are a good source to release information. Remember to take the time and call radio stations and ask if you can provide an interview. Most of the time they will use it.

In Las Vegas, I have a special telephone line where I made recorded updates on during an incident. I know that information is going to be used by the radio stations, so after I hear the beep to know the recorder is on, I imagine I am talking to the radio stations. When they get the chance, they will call in and record the recording I made. In almost every case one radio station or another uses the recordings. Many times the TV stations and print media will also call in to get updates.

If you have any questions or comments, please call me at 702-229-0145 or e-mail me at tszymanski@ci.las-vegas.nv.us.