How to interview someone for publication/airing
There are various media outlets that look for stories to cover in various aspects of life, and many utilize the simplicity of interviews as a source of intrigue. The idea of an interview is for the interviewer to give questions to the interviewee, who then answers each question in either a formal or casual way depending on the topic of the interview. For an interview that is to be made public however, this follows similar methods, except the discussion is made to be specifically for public viewership via various sources, such as news articles or television.
Public interviews are made in acknowledgement of other opinions, perspectives, and values that give other people an idea of who that person is and what their mindset is on specific topics. These topics can be on a person’s personal life, an issue in the world, a general opinion of something, etc, and can be made to interest, support, or manipulate the general public’s opinion of any given idea.
Confirm you have interest in your idea for an article or public televised interview:
It is important to have support beforehand to make sure your interview garners attention from the public, thus make sure you or your organization have pre-established contact with journalists or tv stations/outlets in order to have the highest likelihood of having it published or air on television.
Throughout the interview process, you want to make sure you are promoting your partnership with the interviewee and having a productive conversation together. It is most effective to invite someone whose ideas are similar to your own cause. You also want to make sure the interviewee knows they will be able to review the interview publication/airing prior to it being released to the public. This is typically a clause included in the agreement letter that the interviewee and interviewer sign prior to the interview taking place.This creates a trustworthy, respectful relationship with the interviewee, and this will help boost your reputation as a good interviewer. Here is more information on Interview Releases.
Where to start when making an interview:
When you first have the notion to make an interview, you need to decide on how you wish to conduct the interview, and since different methods come with different advantages, this will ultimately dictate what platform you choose to have your interview on (either to post in written form or visually).
There are multiple choices for conducting an interview:
- In–person interview: A traditional setup that involves two or more people meeting face to face.
- Video interview: A format that has both the interviewer and interviewee(s) talking to one another online via face chat, Zoom, Microsoft, Skype, etc.
- Phone interview: A less direct non-face-to-face method that has the interviewer speaking to the interviewee(s) in a simple phone call.
When you have the selected method you want to use, you would then contact the person you wish to interview either by phone, email, or through a website. Once you have notified them and confirmed a time with them to have the interview (and where to meet if you are meeting with them in person), you then begin to set up for the day of the interview.
Setting up for the interview:
Regardless of what method you are using to conduct the interview, it’s important that you plan ahead and make sure you have everything at hand for when you are ready for said interview.
Such topics for the interview include:
- Determine what goals you want to set: What information are you looking for in the interview? What are you looking to get out of the meeting with the person(s)?
- Do the homework and familiarize yourself with different formats for interviews in television or articles to figure out what audience you are looking to appeal to, as well as what kind of format you feel is necessary for your interviewee.
- Research the person you are interviewing so you know their basic information such as their background, specific topics they might know, what the person is working on/has worked on, and what they are trying to promote in their previous opinions. If you are unable to find such information on them, ask their PR rep or publicist if they have one.
- Have an idea of where you want the conversation and questions to lead beforehand, so if you veer off temporarily during the meeting, you can steer the conversation back to the topic at hand.
- Avoid asking specific questions to the interviewee beforehand, since you want to ask the right questions at the right time during the interview to get an emotional response from them verbally or physically (if you are doing a face to face or video set of interviews).
- If the person you are going to interview has any questions about said interview, answer any questions they have and additionally explain what you want out of the meeting, how long it will take, and where it will be published or aired.
- Make sure you have all your equipment at hand and ready to use (fully charged phones if you are calling the person, fully powered laptops for video meetings, and fully charged equipment for face-to-face interviews that include lights, cameras, and microphones). Make sure everything is working properly before you start the interview.
- Practice your questions so you can stay confident during the meeting.
If needed, ask the interviewee for a pre-interview, in order to have a better idea of the person you are speaking with so that for the main interview you can ask improved and specified questions.
Day of the interview:
During the day of the interview, it is important to keep a formal appearance depending on whether you are face-to-face or in a video meeting (this does not apply to phone call meetings), so when you are meeting the interviewee, you should most likely wear something professional. Professional clothing usually consists of strong, bold colors, though it is fine to wear patterns that are not too busy or distracting. For women, clothing should cover from the shoulders to at least the knees. For men, it is typically best to wear a blazer, with an optional tie or bowtie.
Avoid wearing distracting clothing:
- checks, stripes, other busy patterns
- sunglasses or glasses that darken in reaction to light
- heavy makeup (although powder will help reduce shine under hot studio lights)
For the in-person interview, arrive early to understand where you are and review what questions you are going to ask. Check to make sure the equipment is working and ready to shoot. Make the interviewee aware of the bright lights that will be used during filming, and explain to focus on the lends of the camera or the interviewer themself. Don’t start fully speaking with the interviewee until the cameras and mics are ready (you don’t want to miss something small if it was said off camera or off mic).
For the video interview, make sure you are early to the meeting so you can be fully prepared with your conference and start the session when you know the interviewee is present online. If you can, have the video ready to record depending on what video meeting service you are on, and only turn it off when the meeting is totally over and everything has been said and done.
For the phone interview, wait for the specified period of time at which you or the interviewee is to call one or the other. Also, make sure you have a voice recorder or any other device ready to document the conversation in case you miss anything. Include with you a pen and paper to mark out additional or important points.
Once you are fully ready to begin the interview, there are several important notions to follow to guide the meeting along:
- Make the interviewee comfortable by being professional and friendly, let them know you are interested in their work and humor them to try to lighten the mood if it is a more casual meeting (If you are interviewing face-to-face or in a video-oriented meeting, try to have it set up in a friendly setting with nice surroundings).
- Start the conversation with simple small talk then transition into simple questions about them, such as what they are currently doing in their line of work, what they do in their spare time, what other projects will they be working on in the future, etc.
- Make sure to ask to spell and pronounce their name for both conventional purposes (To know at the beginning of the interview and to write down for publication and proper spelling of the name) and to help support the relationship between you and the interviewee.
- Keep focus on the subject to avoid meandering conversations. This could cause you to lose time and distract the interviewee from his original point/thoughts on the question.
- Avoid having the interviewee respond off mic, as this could lead to missing important information and coverage of the original meeting.
- Ask open ended questions such as “You said ‘…’” following “Why do you believe this to be true?”, “Tell me what you saw”, “What did you think about it?”, “Why was that a tough decision?”, etc. Avoid asking most of your questions in a ‘Yes/No’ format. People want honesty in interviews, and it’s important to garner some form of personal emotion from the interviewee.
- Give time for the interviewee to answer your questions, even if it gives you a few moments of silence for them to find the answer.
- When giving the interview, the emotions you feel during that time may affect the outcome of the meeting. If you are happy, you may be comfortable throughout the meeting, but if you are frustrated with something, that may spill over into how you ask questions and your general attitude towards the meeting itself. Try to keep a level-headed mindset when you are in an interview.
- The interview is a conversation of sorts, so if you are in a long interview, try to position the meeting in a way that will take the conversation from a formal discussion into a more relaxed talk. This may calm the interviewee and allow them to be more open to different questions.
- Ask the same questions in different ways since you may not get the right answer the first time. Instead of repeating the question try to reword the question in a way that would make more sense for the interviewee to understand then answer.
- Throw an unexpected question at the interviewee. If you know they are in a specific field, try to ask them a question they might not be prepared to answer that purely relates to their line of work (if it is a more casual interview) such as “What kind of music do you listen to?” “What kind of weather do you prefer to work in?” “Who influenced you as your own personal hero to go into this line of work?”. Doing this will help the conversation become more open and give more character to the interviewee.
- At the end of your interview once you have answered all your questions, allow your interviewee to ask any questions they have to add to their closing remarks. This allows for any last-minute details to be known before the interview ends. It’s important to have any and all information needed so nothing else is said after the meeting is over.
With the interview complete, make sure everything is saved on the medium that you are using, and get ready to have the interview published. This might include editing with things such as watermarks, minor edits, etc. Though once you are finished with any edits to your video formatted interviews, you should then be ready to publish it for airing. For both face-to-face and video call interviews, make sure to contact your publisher to have said materials delivered to be aired on television or online (this could also be with phone interviews as well if needed), and as soon as it is sent via email or physically to the television station, it should be ready to air on live tv.
As for publication of interviews (specifically for phone interviews), one would normally type out the interview via online or in a document, giving descriptions of the situation, the ideas of the interviewee, and the overall tone of the interview itself. Once this is completed, the interview would either be delivered to a publication company to have the story published, or posted online to a blog/news network, where it would then be shown online. When this is done, you now have your interview published to either an online source or newspaper.
With these steps done, you now have your interview published or aired to television.