What makes a good sound bite?

Short

  • 10 SECONDS is the average length, so MAKE IT COUNT
  • Talk about what you know and give an assessment/your opinion as well as facts
  • Provide 3 to 4 short useable bites in every conversation
  • Plan ahead if you can, at least with the issues you may be asked
  • Relax and enjoy the surprises
  • Stop talking when you have made your point

Clear and to the point

  • Reference your issues outline – know what you think.
  • Combine points so that each can be used separately or together.
  • Use complete sentences and include the question.
  • Avoid jargon or insider languages reference, i.e. abbreviations, language shorthand that everyone might not know
  • Don’t try and cover your whole campaign in every interview

Use visual metaphors or cultural associations

  • Makes difficult ideas easy to access
  • Colorful language is more likely to be remembered
  • Associate you as accessible, friendly and part of the community
  • Cultural associations reflect values without having to state them, for example: Bush’s phrase: “don’t need a permission slip” evokes school and being treated like a child

Personal

  • Stories of your experience
  • Stories of your constituent’s experience
  • You want to feel comfortable and in control
  • Take the time to take a breath and center yourself
  • You can reschedule or ask for a moment to collect your thoughts if you need. Don’t feel pressured or rushed – you control the moment
  • Have a friendly and warm relationship with the camera. The camera is each individual person you want to reach
  • Heighten your energy. TV is a “cold medium” and tends to dampen

Quick Tip – Sound bites are good for door knocking too!

Frame the language

  • Use phrases that one can’t disagree with
  • Don’t fall prey to opposing language that makes you “wrong” — Patriot Act, Tax Relief, Blue Skies Act, No Child Left behind
  • Frame your ideas with values ‘Affordable housing because, “American’s believe that every child deserves a safe home”’

Associate with images

  • Images communicate to your viewers on an emotional level.
  • Choose an interesting location.
  • The location can support your stand on an issue in a visual way.
  • Small Family Farm survival – you do the interview by the cows or on the farm instead of in your office
  • Good lighting and direct, comfortable camera angle.
  • Whenever possible look around you and shift location to best highlight you.
  • You can engage the photographer and reporter in this.

The Big Rules

  1. Assume you are always on the record.
  2. Be honest, don’t say more than you know to be true.
  3. Know what you can’t say. You don’t want to say things that could be viewed as slander.
  4. Stick to your opinion and the facts you know.

To prepare (answer the following questions)

  1. What do I want to be sure the reporter understands when the interview is over?
  2. What information do I most want made public?
  3. Are there stakeholders in this situation who expect or need to hear certain things from me?

Practice

  • Record your interviews for your use to review later.
  • Prepare for what you can and enjoy what you can’t.

LEARN – COMM – sound bite