Ask any reporter (or even Ed!) about the real red carpet, and he or she’ll tell you it’s nowhere near as glam as television sets it out to be. With correspondents packed against each other, everyone’s hoping and waiting (and sometimes fighting) for an exclusive word with the talent.
“We’re all friends behind the velvet rope, but everyone has to prove themselves,” says Carita Rizzo, a freelance entertainment writer who’s contributed to InStyle, Variety, Us Weekly and TV Guide. “When it comes time to do the actual work, be respectful, but understand that if you don’t pipe up your job won’t get done.”
Learning the ropes of event coverage takes time, Ed knows this personally, but he’s rounded up four seasoned red carpet reporters’ best tips to accelerate your course. From fashion week insight to interview tips, these hard-earned lessons will prepare you for whatever—and whoever—comes your way.
DO use a digital recorder and always have it on. “Sometimes the publicists say one question, and that can be tough,” says Jeffrey Slonim who covers the carpet for Allure, Architectural Digest, Gotham and Hamptons. “Sometimes you can get the person next to you to ask about the project, so you asking about the dress just sounds like you’re filling in.”
DON’T steal or sabotage other people’s interviews. “Learn red carpet etiquette,” says Rizzo. “Don’t interrupt celebs if they’re in the middle of giving another outlet a quote. We need every word we can get.” For group interviews where a celeb is answering questions for multiple reporters, attribute the quote accordingly.
DO memorize your questions and be conversational. “Stars always get the same questions asked to them,” says Russ Weakland, senior LA reporter for HollywoodLife.com. “So if you mix it up, they will be happy to talk to you longer and end up giving you more to use when you eventually ask the questions they are expecting.”
DON’T take rejection personally. “Be professional and respectful, even to people who are rude to you,” says Eric Wilson, InStyle’s fashion news director. And with fashion week particularly, choose your battles. “Never engage in an argument you can’t win—namely, with security.”
DO know what your outlet wants. When it comes to carpet placement and who talks with you, “you’re often at the mercy of what’s in front of you,” says Rizzo. “Know who to target and whose time not to waste. And when you do get a shot—because you never know if Oprah is just going to show up in front of you—know exactly what you need from her in the 30 seconds you’ll be given.”
DON’T forget your role. “Don’t do a selfie, ask for them to call your cousin, gush about their work except on really rare occasions,” says Slonim. “They get that from fans. You’re supposed to be a pro.”
DO stay on your toes. “Listen closely to the answers, and ask follow up questions that show you’re paying attention,” says Wilson. “You’d be surprised how many red carpet reporters could be substituted with robots.”
And above all, DON’T forget your confidence. “Always act like you have been there before, and the rest will come easy,” says Weakland. “The job is fun; have fun with it. Don’t get bitter because you could easily be doing a much harder job.”