PR Writing: the Pitch Letter & Confirmation Letter

The Art of the Interview: Planning the Message

You already know a lot about planning the message. For interviews, as for releases, you need to be clear on:

  • Your objectives
  • The basic elements of your story (the 5 W's)
  • What makes it newsworthy (the "6th W" - "So What?" - The angle)
  • The message you want to send
  • The supportive points that reinforce your message (order of paragraphs)

In other words, you have to do your message planner. By the time you're ready to schedule interviews for a PR campaign, it will be likely that you've already done a message planner for this subject -- you did that back before you wrote your first press release, right? You can use that same work -- in fact, you should use that same work -- as you set up your interviews. After all, all the different activities of the PR campaign are going to be structured to accomplish a single end -- that is, to send a single message.

But before you schedule interviews you may want to revisit the message planner -- and here's why: Usually, when you're planning your PR campaign, you're writing a message planner for your own guidance. No one else is going to need to look at it, so you can be as idiosyncratic as you please -- use shorthand, scribble in the margins, add ideas as they occur to you, take chances with wacky ideas. But when you schedule interviews, you're entering a new, collaborative stage of your work...

The Art of the Interview involves not just the PR writer, but the interviewee as well. You are no longer working solo -- you're now dependent on the performance of your "star" -- your Sue Jennings, or Harold Stein, or whoever. That means you have to spend some time making sure that both you and your clients are singing from the same sheet music. That's part of your responsbility as a PR writer.

One way to synchronize with your clients is through a planning memo. This is a really good way to impress them with your level of organization and your far-seeing perspicacity (look it up). And all it takes is cleaning up your message planner a little, making it "presentable for company."

"Writing an interview" includes three distinct stages:

     Planning the Message
    The Pitch Letter
    The Confirmation Letter
... and we've just finished with item one.

Go on to the next page.


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