Doing a Satellite Media Tour Without Ever Boarding a Plane


In post-pandemic days, airlines may never be as crowded as they had been before the coronavirus hit. Some form of social distancing is likely to become part of the “new normal.” But that doesn’t mean that you will see the return of media spokespersons to the skies.

That’s because even if fares drop it will still be relatively expensive to send a spokesperson from city to city with the cost of airline tickets, taxis, meals and hotels.

Besides, traveling isn’t much fun when you’re squeezed into an economy class seat.

Travel by Satellite

These days many media spokespersons travel the world simply by sitting in a studio and taking a satellite media tour.

What is a satellite media tour?

A television satellite media tour (SMT) or radio media tour (RMT) is a series of pre-scheduled interviews between a spokesperson and station news reporters across the country.

The spokesperson stays in one location, but switches electronically from one interview to the next, conducting one-on-one discussions that air either “live” (simultaneously) or are taped for airing in later news broadcasts.

There are companies that specialize in booking these tours. If you’re scheduled for a tour, the crew will establish the connection with the TV or radio station and notify you, via your earphone, when an interview is about to begin.

The producer will tell you the name of the reporter, the station/network, and the city where the station is located. This information may also be displayed on the TV monitors in front of you.

The reporter will usually introduce herself and, if time permits, engage in some small talk. When she is ready, the reporter will begin to ask you questions. You may not be certain when an interview has actually started, so it is wise to always assume you’re on the air.

Preparing for the Interview

Satellite media tours are grueling. It’s important to keep your energy up with a full night’s sleep and to eat before you reach the start line.

Fotolia_47779512_XSInterviews typically last from four to six minutes but can be as short as one minute and as long as 10-12 minutes.

For a two-hour tour, you can expect to conduct interviews with 12-15 stations. For a three-hour tour, you can expect to participate in 16-20 or more interviews.

That’s a lot of repetition. It is easy for you to find yourself repeating the same message point twice in an interview if you aren’t careful or, heaven forbid, forget to get in your key messages.

To avoid that, have an outline of your remarks for each interview, even if you’re talking to 20 different show hosts. Include personalized remarks for each one. If you’re in Philadelphia mention how much you like Philly cheesesteaks. If your host has just written a book, mention the title. A coach can help you craft your messages and personalize each interview.

Often you will be talking directly into the camera during a TV interview and not with the host. Be animated and use small gestures to make your points. They will relax you.

Radio media interviews can be scheduled by phone in your home. Make sure your dog isn’t barking and instruct the doorman (if you have one) not to buzz you. Turn off your cell phone.

Tips for Satellite Media Tours

If you’re scheduled for a satellite media tour, you may find these tips useful:

  • Look directly at the camera. Maintain solid eye contact and imagine you’re talking to a good friend.
  • Be aware of nervous mannerisms such as covering your mouth, shifting your eyes, touching your face, straightening glasses, fiddling with your hair or swiveling in your chair.
  • Refer to the reporter by name once or twice during the interview. Let your personality come through.
  • Get your points across early and know how you want to begin your interview and your wrap-up. Speak in short sentences (sound bites) in summarizing your key messages.
  • Use examples/analogies/anecdotes as often as possible so that your audience can relate to the topic. Don’t use industry jargon. Do speak in plain English that everyone will understand.
  • Use your hands to express key points. Be conversational.
  • Be careful not to bump the microphone – it causes static and distortion of your voice.

Technical difficulties are inevitable. Don’t be frustrated if a satellite connection is lost, the reporter or producer can’t hear you, or if there is a momentary flurry of activity in the studio.

Expect a few cancellations of interviews on tour day due to breaking news in local markets. It’s not your fault. Take the time to refresh yourself. Take a bio break. Get something to eat but stay away from dairy products. Do some easy stretching exercises. You’ll feel better and be raring to go for your next interview

There’s no question that “traveling” the country, or the globe, without leaving your desk is an efficient and cost effective way to broadcast your messages without having to cope with the many challenges of today’s business travel.

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The Newman Group is a recognized leader in guiding business professionals, celebrities and authors to improve their communications skills in presentations and media interviews.

Our highly skilled and experienced professionals have the expertise in media and presentation training to meet any business situation — from helping an executive to prepare for the challenge of talking to a reporter during a business crisis to presenting a group of investors during an IPO or keeping a celebrity spokesperson on point.