Pitching a Story: The Art of the Interview
Feature stories and broadcast interviews are some of the best ways to promote your client or cause -- especially on television and radio, but also in print media. We are going to concentrate on broadcast interviews, but the techniques are quite applicable to print interviews as well.
But feature stories are almost always written by reporters, not PR writers. And interviews of course, are conducted by reporters or, for broadcast, by on-air "talent."
So how can a PR writer "write" an interview? After all, interviews are free-form activities... they're interpersonal, spontaneous, open to all kinds of random influences. The interview would seem to be the one place where the writer cannot reach -- where the subject (whoever is being interviewed, i.e., your client) is out there on a wing and a prayer and you can only hope for the best, right?
Uh-uh. (that means, "no, that's wrong") -- You can "write an interview." And I'm going to teach you how.
Now, if you were only an average PR writer, you might be satisfied with simply scheduling an interview. That's "good enough for government work," isn't it? After all, it's not easy to pitch a reporter or editor with a story idea, and when you're successful, you're really creating value for your client or boss. So, all too often a publicist will show up at the boss's office with a list of interviews scheduled, and feel pretty good about the work accomplished -- and leave it at that.
But you're in training to be an above-average PR writer and you're going to surprise your boss by demonstrating a degree of imagination and initiative that puts you in a much higher class of professional. You're going to treat the interview as you do every other dimension of PR writing... that is,
You're going to treat the interview as another opportunity to send a message -- the message that you have so carefully created with your message planner.
The Art of the Interview includes three distinct stages:
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