Interview, don’t interrogate

Media interview | Telephone interview | Content strategy
Interview, don't interrogate
To create truly interesting and technically accurate content, journalists and PR professionals need to make interviews with experts and clients meaningful. However, interviews, either face-to-face or over the phone, can be a stressful experience and if you don’t get the information you need you can be left scratching your head. Preparation is vital, but what should you consider when arranging an interview and how much preparation is too much?

By Sara-Anne Mills-Bricknell, account executive at Stone Junction.

Be informed
When conducting an interview, one of the most important rules is to have a true passion to learn about the subject. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but the desire to want to understand or learn something from someone else makes you irresistible.

Begin by understanding what you need from the interview, so you can determine who you should be speaking to and what you need to be asking them. Interviewing a farmer about the latest aerospace technology for example, may not prove all that useful.

Thorough research will help you structure your questions and can highlight topics you and your readers would be most interested in. Remember you don’t need to be an expert — if you were you wouldn’t need the interview — but familiarity with a few buzzwords and recent news around the subject will give you confidence and will show your interviewee that you’re genuinely interested in the subject at hand.

Be open
Writing a draft set of questions ahead of the interview will give you a clear structure and help you avoid any awkward silences. It is also a good idea to provide your interviewee with a copy of the questions ahead of your meeting or call, so they have a clear idea of the focus of the interview. When discussing specialist topics, your interviewee may not know all the technical  information off hand, so this can help them prepare and help you both get as much out of the interview as possible.

Be human
Interviews should be a conversation, not an interrogation. By helping your interviewee to feel comfortable, you are more likely to get detailed and informative answers — making your life easier! One way of achieving this is by mirroring the person’s body language, or matching their tone if you’re speaking on the phone.

A good technique to master is being able to really listen to people. It’s not just what someone says that can give you the answers you’re looking for. As the interviewer, it’s your responsibility to ensure you’re tuned in and pick up on any pauses or expressions that indicate whether you should move on, or probe a little deeper.

At Stone Junction, we’re actually interested in the work we do and that’s why we’re able to source information to deliver successful and influential content and campaigns. If you want to work with a PR agency that can produce technical and creative copy, get in touch on +44 (0) 1785 225 416 or e-mail hello@stonejunction.co.uk.

Sara-Anne Mills-Bricknell

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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