Beginner’s guide p.3
Interviews and Profiles
I know, you feel weird about this one, right? You Are uncomfortable calling someone or visiting a business to ask a professional to take precious time out of their day to help you research your article.
Well, buck up, little camper, because most professionals absolutely love to be interviewed. They jump at the chance, for a few reasons. These are the reasons to keep in mind when you feel small and silly for asking:
It shows you respect their opinion and/or job.
It gives them opportunities for publicity of their business.
It gives them the chance to brag to friends that they are quoted in a magazine.
It gives them something to frame and show clients.
Finally, someone is recognizing their genius and taking an interest in their work.
Theyre usually wannabe writers, anyway, and they will be just as happy to pick your brain to find out how you got the job.
Before you approach experts:
Make sure you already have your questions mapped out, at least briefly. What exactly do you need to know from this person? What could this person tell you that no one else can? Avoid yes or no questions. Ask open-ended questions that could lead to lengthy responses chock full of great quotes. Also, have a synopsis of your planned article ready, so you can tell your expert what youre writing and how they can supplement your knowledge.
How to approach experts:
Get on the phone. Have your idea condensed into 2-3 sentences, so you can quickly explain yourself to whomever answers the phone.
Hello. My name is Jenna, and I’m writing an article about the rise in vegetarianism among young women in Nevada for Youth In Nevada Magazine. I know Dr. Spuds is a well-respected nutritionist, and I’m hoping she would be willing to answer a few questions on this subject.
At this point, the secretary will say, Hold, and make you listen to elevator musak while she summons the boss. Or she’ll take down your number and have Dr. Spuds call you back. Or it will be Dr. Spuds herself, and she’ll say, What do you want to know?
Your options at this point are (1) Ask questions over the phone, right then and there. Make sure you check to make sure your expert is not pressed for time before you begin. (2) Set up a phone date to conduct the interview. (3) Ask if you can meet in person. This is good almost necessary if the person will be the focus of your article. If the person is being used just to add a few quotes, you don’t have to meet in person, because it’s unlikely you’ll ever need to write, Dr. Spuds wrinkled her brow and stared into her pea soup as she explained that young women are becoming more health-conscious. (4) Trade email addresses and send over a list of questions. This approach isn’t usually the best, because it doesn’t allow you to react to, and build from, information you gain in answers to previous questions. However, if the publication will not reimburse you for long distance phone calls, and you have to conduct a lengthy interview, e-mail exchanges are acceptable. Just make ! sure you specify a due date for the responses. Be reasonable try to give the expert a week to answer all your questions.