Six Steps For Expert Blog Interviews. Nothing will add to your credibility and blog readership like interviewing someone in your field who is already a recognized expert. It’s the opposite of guilt by association, but I don’t know what or even if there is a saying for that. Maybe “smart by association” or “expert in proximity” are those labels. But you want to be thought of and remembered in the same way that those experts are. How do you do that? Where do you go to find someone to interview and once you find them, how do you convince them to talk with you? While there are no guarantees offered here, the steps listed below are the ones I use to book guests for my podcast.
- Research via Google News Alerts. I do a podcast called The Collectors Show. Every week I interview someone who is a recognized expert in his or her respective field of collecting. I’ve interviewed people who are regulars on “Antiques Roadshow” along with others who hold records for collecting, authors of price guides, tour guides and some with collections that are non-traditional. I’ve interviewed a man who collects vacuum cleaners, another who collects mustard, one who collects barf bags and another who collects fishing lures. I found them all with Google News Alerts . Google News Alerts provides as much information as I can read about collecting, collectors and collectibles. There is always a local paper or some other media outlet that covers something of interest that will show up on the alert. There is so much news about collecting and collectibles, that I also do a “news from the world of collecting” segment. Find your experts via Google News Alerts.
- Send and e-mail invitation. Once you located the person you want to interview, send him/her an email invitation. Introduce yourself and describe what you want to do. Tell them there is no charge for participating and that you are a friendly outlet for their views and opinions. I always say, “ours is friendly program with a friendly audience, this is not 60 Minutes.” More often than not the person you invite will say yes. In fact I have done over 50 shows and only been turned down twice.
- Send a list of questions. Whether you intend to record the interview over Skype, for a podcast or a written blog, do the interviewee the courtesy of sending a list of questions in advance. This will result in a better interview because your interviewee will be better prepared with more thoughtful answers. Worried about spontaneity or journalistic integrity? Well, if you are a paid member of the news media that is a reasonable consideration. If you are, on the other hand, someone who blogs because of a love of the topic you blog about, it is not. In addition to better answers, you will save time for yourself and for your interviewee. Most bloggers have real jobs, so making a good use of time is better for you too.
- Presume you are already friends. I had the chance to meet and work with a brilliant marketer whose name is Stan Slap (http://www.slapcompany.com/site/) Among the many things that I learned from him was “the presumption of acquaintance” with the audience. It amounts to writing as though you were writing a letter to a friend. It works when writing sales letters, brochures and it also works with interviews. Listen to some of your favorite media hosts or reporters and make note of the tone of the interview. I’m a fan of radio, so I listen to it a lot. And the thing I learned from listening to them is that they always sound like they know the person they are interviewing. Most of the time, they have never met and have never even talked on the phone before the interview starts. But you would never know that from listening. The radio personality I liked the most was a man named Ian Punnet. Ian is not on the air any more but if you go to the Coast-to-Coast web site (coasttocoastam.com), you can find some of his old shows. For a good television example, watch Jimmy Fallon. You would think he knows everyone on his program really well. He doesn’t but you would never know that from watching. If you decide to do a podcast, Blog Talk Radio is the first obvious resource. Webmaster Radio is another one to keep an eye on.
- Edit sparingly. For radio, podcasts or video, this used to be called “live to tape” but since no one uses tape any more, it is probably called something different. Heavily edited content looks and reads like it is abbreviated. When I do the podcast interviews I hardly every do any editing of the audio. The only time I do is when the dog barks, I start sneezing or coughing, or there is some other exterior interruption that is out of my control. If you sent the questions to your interviewee for written responses, treat them the same way. If you have to edit answers, make sure the person you interview knows this in advance. You may have to edit because of space or time limits. People understand that and will forgive you, but only if you tell them in advance.
- Make interviews a regular addition to your blog. This will help you with unique content for your blog in the form of expert input and provide a nice break for you. If you blog regularly you know that it is hard work and that letting someone else add his or her voice will allow you to learn and re-charge all at once.
Like most everything there is a lot more on this topic and it is freely available via the Internet. These 6 tips are based on my experience. I hope they are useful to you.