If you are ever out of blog post ideas for the day, then fill the gap by interviewing someone, such as a thought leader within your organization or within your industry. Just a 10-minute conversation can offer enough information to create one or two unique, excellent posts that will certainly engage your readers. However, if you haven't conducted an interview before, it can be a difficult thing to do. Over the holiday weekend, we were looking for great articles to share on social media this week. We came across the post that we thought was an interview post and would be an awesome share, except that the post was too short and was no interview at all. The lines were just pulled from a webinar the writer attended, and didn't actually talk to the person mentioned. Instead of doing the interview post the easy, (and disengaging) way, do it the right way by following these tips:
Prepare Questions Before the Interview
Tip 1: If you have the time, even just a few hours, then its best to prepare a few questions ahead of time. This way, you don't waste time during the interview trying to come up with questions, and you can take the time to do a little research you can ask good questions.
Tip 2: Make sure ask questions that involved the 5Ws and the H. Open ended questions make better source material than simple "yes or no" questions. Even if the questions seem stupid or have an obvious answer, ask them anyway. You are just doing the interview to learn a thing or two, but to gather some great quotes to put in your upcoming blog post.
Tip 3: Don't be afraid to ask tough questions. If you know of a hole in a person's philosophies, ask about it. If there's a controversy going on in your industry, ask about it. However, save these questions for the end of the interview to earn your source's trust and to avoid an overall awkward interview.
Tip 4: Ask follow up questions, or questions that come to mind as the person is talking. No one says that you have to only ask questions from you list.
Doing the Interview
Tip 1: If possible, do the interview in person, with phone as a the second best choice. Email interviews are the worse because they don't leave much option for following, or any chances to read body language or to hear tone (to see if the person is lying or is simply rattling off PR talk)
Tip 2: Don't interrupt the person, even if you've already gotten the main point or if the person is being redundant. It's just rude, and will ruin the atmosphere of the interview.
Tip 3: A great way to end the interview is to ask the person if he/she has anything to say that you haven't asked about yet. This gives the person a chance to include anything that they think is important, and sometimes could include vital information that you would have otherwise missed.
Include Direct Quotes in the Final Post
This was one of the biggest mistakes in the interview post that we found. The writer just pulled lines from a webinar, and didn't bother to talk to the person directly. The direct quotes are the best part! So, don't shortchange your readers by summarizing or including hum-drum sentences that don't offer anything compelling. A direct quote looks something like the example below, and offers insight that only that particular person could provide (that last part is crucial, as it was makes a great direct quote from a so-so one that anyone could say):
Customers would be willing to pay $11 more a month for a mobile phone company they actually trust," co-author Martha Rogers said. "[A trustable company will]* keep you posted on what’s good for you about the business, and offer things that are valuable to you instead of making you search for everything from scratch."
*Brackets are used in direct quotes to help clarify what the person is saying while using words the person didn't actually say. In this example, Rogers actually said, "they" in the interview, but using "they" would be vague unless you participated in the full interview.