Conducting and hosting interviews with professionals from various industries, and having those interviews go well takes a special type of talent.
However, not all PR professionals are equipped with the necessary skills that make for a successful interview.
Most of the time, these professionals are expected to learn and pick up those vital interviewing skills on the go. However, there are certain surefire steps that every interviewer should be doing before, or during an interview.
That way, the entire event will be filled with storytelling material – even if it means interviewing a company’s CEO to learn more about the company itself, or about a media event.
Before the Interview
There are several steps that PR professionals should be taking before they ever sit down to conduct the interview. Everything starts at the preparation steps, where the interviewer should be learning both about the topic that’s going to be discussed, as well as the person that’s going to be interviewed.
What that means is looking up the interviewee using search engines and going through their social media profiles to find valuable pieces of information. The next step is to start the interview process by emailing the interviewee a couple of questions before both sides sit down for the conversation.
The final preparatory step is to create a set of questions that are going to be the guide for the entire interview. This means having a list of questions to ask the interviewee, however, that list shouldn’t be so long that they get overwhelmed. It’s possible that the conversation can deepen at certain points, but the list of questions is still going to be useful as it can guide both parties back on track.
During the Interview
Once both sides are sitting down together, and it’s time for the interview to begin, the PR professional must remind the source that they’re both on the same team. That means all content that’s going to be created from the interview itself is going to be reviewed and approved before publishing. Another essential step is warming up the interviewee with a few easy questions, in the beginning, so they start feeling comfortable talking about the deeper topics later on.
Although during interviews it’s best to constantly ask open-ended questions, so that the interviewee can answer them at length, it’s just as important to actively listen to their answers. That way, should anything relevant or interesting pop up during their answers, it will be a lot easier to ask follow-up questions at the right time. This is important because those pieces of information are often what ends up making for newsworthy stories in the press.
Finally, although the PR professional is the one that will be asking all the questions, it’s just as important for them to participate in the conversation itself through comments. This is the best way to make the entire interview sound a lot more like a conversation instead of an interrogation, and it also helps the source in opening up more.
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