Twitter at 3 am (Denver time)

Show over. Looks like I lived to tell about that one—and didn’t embarrass the university or the Mayborn School of Journalism. (I’m not worried about embarrassing myself, but I never want to hurt the client/employer.) Either I did OK or their second hour guest didn’t show up, because what was originally booked as a one hour interview lasted two. But the time flew by, even though it was way past my bedtime.

Admittedly, I’m a little out of practice, but got the hang of it again quickly. How? First of all, I didn’t think about the fact they claim to have a million listeners of this show. I’m on the phone with one guy who’s asking me questions, and occasionally someone else is conferenced in for a three way conversation. That’s a pretty normal state of affairs for most of us, and one PR pros could keep in mind when doing interviews.

So, how did it go? After my prep (see previous blog post), I had several interesting Twitter conversations with my students, mainly about Rebecca Black’s horrible viral music video—then she turns up on Leno and the snarkfest got even better.

Gotta love Twitter. Where else can you converse with people like they’re sitting in the living room with you while they’re miles away? But I digress….

My desired nap never materialized, and at about 1:30 am I found myself fading. I made a cup of strong tea and got a huge glass of ice water, hooked the headset up to my phone, and listened to the show before ours. I pulled out my notes and listened to people talk about DUI and marijuana and how Obama is a Marxist. Seems to be a theme there.

There was a small posse of students listening—and tweeting—that I really appreciated. Katie Grivna, NT Daily Editor (@katiegrivna), Julianne Verdes (@JooLeeV), Lesley Merritt (@PR_Lesley), @ValerieElisse (sorry, can’t remember your last name because I haven’t had you in class yet), Nick Clarke (@Nikwc) and my loyal TA, Kali Flewellen (@iamkalijo) turned out to be a spontaneous support posse. They’d chime in with comments, quips for me to use, and critiqued everything from the show’s music to the announcer’s voice (very nice).

Rick Barber is one of the best informed and considerate radio hosts I’ve worked with. He knew his stuff but had no problem saying “I don’t understand this, explain it to me.” I was way over-prepared (as any good spokesperson would be) but nothing prepares you for those people who call in to radio talk shows.

The first caller was a Star Trekkie, who thought this whole thing was “borg like.” I found things in his comments to agree with, to validate his position, and Rick eventually politely cut him off to go to a commercial break. We also had a call from a Texan who wants to major in music at UNT, who wanted to know how to use Twitter strategically, and a real estate guy who was asking for advice on how to use SM in his business. I found myself dispensing some consulting advice, which is OK. I want people to know how to use it strategically, and find value in it.

I even got to discuss my beloved Kentucky Wildcats and the NCAA basketball tournament. How’s that for taking control of an interview? And I plugged the social media class blog on air, too.

Kali, my awesome TA, called in and had some good things to say about Twitter, and I had the chance to discuss some customer service case studies, how to set up a Twitter account, and how to find people to follow. I plugged Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, and Twellow. Rick seemed to be hanging on every word.

He’s a great interviewer. He lets you talk, asks good questions, and is fun to chat with. I’m spoiled. I felt like I was sitting at a table having a beer with him, it was so easy. Because he’s such a congenial interviewer, I was able to get all my desired talking points in without (I hope) appearing to take charge of the interview.

But those callers can be scary, especially at night—to paraphrase Forrest Gump, “They’re like a box of chocolates, you never really know what you’re going to get.

As for prep– a good spokesperson knows the topic, and is passionate about it.  That’s all it takes to make it look easy, although I was consciously watching the clock to put in a Mayborn plug if I thought it had been too long since the last one.  Gotta think on your feet, but it’s easy to do if you know your stuff and love it.

The kids who tweeted comments and ideas didn’t realize it at the time, but they were doing exactly what they’d be doing for a client or CEO in a similar situation. And they were great moral support. Even though I’ve done stuff like this dozens of times before, it’s always good to know your posse’s got your back.

Click here to listen to the whole show.

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