Flash Quote reporter? What on earth is that?

24 Mar 2018 4:30 PMMike Bennett
Flash Quote reporter? What on earth is that?

With the 2018 Commonwealth games just a matter of days away, a group of us had our venue specific training and for many people the realisation of ‘this stuff is really happening’ hit home!

It’s not so bad for me, I’ve worked in the media for most of my life and still interview a variety of guests on my 101FM Monday morning show (see what I did there? www.101fm.com.au between 9.00 and 12.00 Queensland time!) so some people might see that as a bit of an advantage. Compared to those with no interview experience there’s no doubt that’s true however, this is a HUGE opportunity for EVERYONE fortunate enough to have made it through to the final round so to speak.

I see this as a huge honour for me and my wife Tracey (known affectionately as ‘The current Mrs Bennett’) with both of us being part of the press operations team. It seems a long time since we went for our respective interviews armed with the knowledge that if either one of us didn’t get through, there would be an arctic atmosphere in our part of South East Queensland for several months. Fortunately, that $20 note slipped to our interviewer at the end of the session seemed to have paid off and we were both accepted.

I’m kidding of course. . . it was only $10 each!

There’s an official Commonwealth games volunteers page now and several people have approached me to ask for some tips when it comes to interviews. Clearly they haven’t listened to my show or they would know better but, in the spirit of the games, here are my top tips for the role of ‘Flash Quote reporter. . .

1: Have fun! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity (for me anyway) so just enjoy every moment. We get to mingle with the athletes every shift. . how good is that?

2: It’s OK to be nervous but don’t be overawed by the occasion. I make the occasional public appearance (Normally when Mrs B wants the house to herself) and I still have nerves but you can use them to good effect. A few butterflies is fine, it shows you care but being a nervous wreck won’t help you or the person you’re talking too.

3: Don’t try and be clever or ask difficult questions. These are known as the ‘friendly games’ and our role is not be controversial, smart or make it uncomfortable for the athletes. There are no prizes for asking a question that results in a sharp intake of breath from the other journalists and your games maker colleagues.

4. Listen! Seriously, that’s it. . .just listen.

5 Watch what the professional journalists and reporters are doing. They have an agenda and will always as questions that will result in the quote they need for their story. Back in the day I used to work with a news editor who sent us out on stories with the instruction “tell them to say this. . .”

6:  If you can’t think of anything to ask then don’t ask anything! I know, sounds strange when you are there to pick up quotes but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be on your own so if you have nothing to ask just record the answers the athletes give to other reporters

7: Research is ok but beware of information overload. If you try to learn about every athlete and include stats and previous results for each one you’ll suffer from information overload. Who are they, where are the from, what have they done recently is enough to get things started and, if in doubt. . . . .refer to number 4!

8: Remember why we are there! It’s not a life history you want, it’s a quote, a soundbite or a clip. Call it what you like but think of a headline or grabber and you won’t need much more than that. For TV a soundbite is anywhere from 7 to 15 seconds these days. That’s between 21 and 45 words at normal speech rate. Having said that, most athletes speak at twice the normal speed but you get the idea.

9: The games makers are not in competition with each other. We should all be there to help, encourage and make this the best experience for everyone involved. If you are struggling just ask any of your fellow team mates to help, advise or even encourage. I know I’ll be happy to help anyone on my shifts to ensure that we are all having the best experience that money can’t buy.

10: See number 1 and have fun!

I’ll be at Oxenford studios for the boxing starting on Thursday 5th April at 5.30pm so come and say hello. I’ll be the one with the grey highlights and wide grin!