Adam Fisher
26th October 2018 - 7 mins read
I

’ve woken up with content ideas in the middle of the night, half-way through a gym session and while eating dinner. One of the best ways to create content, however, is to interview people. 

Not only can these be written up as a straight interview, like this example from our magazine, but you can also use them to breathe life and add fresh impetus into existing content ideas. And invariably, as you carry out more interviews, you will find you spot more content ideas through the people you talk to. 

Whether it is people in your own organisation or key influencers in the sector, getting the views, opinions and personalities of other people into your content can offer your readers something strong and different.

But how do you carry out an effective interview if you don’t have a journalism background?

I’ve worked as a journalist and now create content for Thirty Seven and its clients.

Here are my tips for successful content creation interviews:

 

Avoid the word ‘interview’

I’ve always tried to avoid using the word ‘interview’.

As a journalist, I found that it was a word that made people nervous.  It has a formal feel and conjures up thoughts of job interviews or politicians being torn apart by Jeremy Paxman on TV. 

On occasions, it would stop people from talking to me altogether.

However, if I said something like ‘have you got a few minutes for a quick chat’, I would get a much better response.

I’ve found this theory is the same when it comes to content creation. If I use the word ‘interview’, I might typically get a response like ‘I wouldn’t know what to say’.  If I say ‘I just want to get your thoughts on…’ they are generally up for the idea.

It all goes back to making sure the person you are interviewing, or wanting to interview, is relaxed.

 

Start off gently

There is a good chance that the person you will be talking to will not have done an interview before or had any form of media training (something our sister company Media First can help with).

That means that while I’m still going to take a journalistic approach to the interview, I’m going to start more gently than I would when faced with an experienced media spokesperson.

I’ll be looking to ask questions that hopefully put them at ease, help them to relax and open up and encourage them to share their thoughts.

I tend to think on my feet and if I feel they are growing in confidence I may go for some harder questions. If not, I’ll continue with open, gentle questions which encourage them to keep talking.

Whatever their confidence level, I won’t look for the curveball question that I may have used as a journalist.

 

Don’t share questions in advance

You will find conflicting advice about this in other blogs about content creation.

But, I really don’t believe in sending interviewees a list of questions I’m planning to ask in advance.

In my experience, doing this ensures scripted responses which won’t capture the conversational tone you need to aim for.

And, as I have already mentioned, I don’t prepare my own questions in advance.

I’m not completely heartless though. I will give them an overview of what I am looking for and hope to cover ahead of the interview. 

If conducting a #ContentMarketing interview, don't share the questions you're going to ask before-hand. It ensures you create a conversational tone and avoid scripted answers. Via: @37agency

 

Focus

It might sound needy, but when I carry out an interview I want the interviewee’s undivided attention.

There is nothing worse than when someone is in full flow, telling a great anecdote or story which will bring your content to life, and suddenly they are distracted by an email appearing on their screen or a phone call for example.

So, if I can, I always strive to carry out interviews away from their desk. Perhaps there is a meeting room you could use in your building, or you could possibly meet in a coffee shop.

I’ve even arranged to meet interviewees at their home to keep them away from the distracting work environment.

Similarly, I try to make sure they have got plenty of time for the interview. Finding that you have been given a 15-minute slot sandwiched between two meetings will result in a distracted interview.

 

Be curious

I have recently found myself writing content about office designs and workplace trends.

This is a subject I have not encountered in my career, despite some of the newspaper offices I have worked in being completely dingy and in desperate need of refurbishment.

So I was a little unsure of how this would go. But then my journalistic curiosity came into play and I wanted to find out what lay behind the statements I was being told.

I found myself asking lots of open questions, many of which began with ‘why’ or ‘how’ - part of the 5Ws and an H which form the basis of most lines of questioning (what, when, who, why, where and how).

Why should a modern officer contain lots of greenery? How does that improve the health of the office worker?

To adapt an old proverb, while curiosity killed the cat, lack of curiosity killed the reporter, or in this case the content producer.

 

Look out for sound bites

When we use the term sound bites in written content, we are talking about those all-important quotes that could potentially make your content stand out.

A good quote can make a punchy headline or perhaps some pull-out quotes that can be used to break up sections of content.

But, often people don’t talk in complete sentences or are not concise, which can mean finding these quotes can be tricky.

There are a couple of tricks I use.

The first is that I may suggest I have missed their last point, perhaps by saying something like ‘my shorthand isn’t what it used to be’ and ask them to repeat it in the hope they deliver something stronger second time around. 

The other approach is to re-phrase it for them. Once they have finished their point, I’ll say something along the lines of ‘so what you are saying is’ and look to produce a summary of what they have just said that better lends itself to being a quote.

If they agree with that summary then I can put the sentence I have reworded in their name.

 

Get it all down

As a former journalist, I have the advantage of being able to use shorthand when I carry out interviews.

I’ll admit my shorthand ability isn’t what it once was –neglected by years in newspaper managerial roles and a move to PR - but even if I was still capable of producing 100 words per minute, I would still look to record interviews I carry out for content production purposes to ensure I capture everything that is said.

Always make sure, however, that the interviewee is happy to be recorded.

 

Keep it conversational

I want my content to have a conversational tone.

That means that if I’m going to have lots quotes from my interviewee in the blog then I need them to be in the sort of everyday language they would use when talking to friends or family.

Industry jargon, management speak and acronyms could make great swathes of text unusable. Again, getting them out of the workplace and helping them to feel relaxed can help with this.

It also means that while I’ll have an idea of what I’m going to ask and may have some prepared questions to use as a guide, my interview is not going to be scripted.

A pretty sure fire way of making a conversation stilted is for the interviewer to make their way through a great shopping list of questions.

I want to be able to adapt as we go along and explore things that come up in conversation that I may not have considered and veer off in a direction I may not have imagined – you never know where this might lead.

 

Avoid group interviews

Group interviews are a nightmare for the content creator.

While the interviewee might prefer the ‘safety in numbers approach’, the result is typically a series of incomplete quotes as the subjects talk over each other and finish each other’s sentences.

And I think you also miss out on a lot of the personality that comes through when you talk to one person face to face.

It may be more time-consuming, but I would rather interview the people separately and then stitch together what they have said to form my content.

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or a whitepaper.

Marketing

Podcasts: How can you tell you are getting a return on your investment and time?

James White 5th June 2020 — 4 mins read
T

hat is more than double the number that was listening to them just two years ago.

We are, it seems, absorbing more and more content through our ears.

So, it is hardly surprising that increasing numbers of companies are becoming aware of the benefits and are looking to include podcasts in their communication strategies.

One of the questions we are often asked by companies looking to get involved in podcasting is how they can measure success in this area.

And that is an important question because you need to see a reward for your investment in time, effort and resources.

Let’s take a look at some of the key metrics you could use.

 

Downloads

This is the most obvious metric and will help to give you a good idea of the size of your audience.

But it is important to remember that a download does not necessarily equate to a listen – your content could remain unheard even if it is downloaded.

Additionally, a listener could download the same podcast on multiple devices.

Rather than looking at total downloads, opt for using unique downloads as this refines the numbers and removes multiple downloads from the same user.

Also, look at the number of downloads per episode. Fluctuations here will show you what content your listeners are most interested in and what they find less appealing.

 

Subscriptions

This measures the number of people that are subscribing to your podcast and who get notified when a new episode is available.

If people are opting to subscribe to your podcast, it tells you that they want to hear more from you and that they don’t want to miss an episode.

 

Social mentions

If people like the content of your podcasts, they are likely to talk about it on their social media channels.

And you will be able to use your social media listening tools to see who is discussing your podcast and what they are saying about it.

Likes, shares and retweets are all good measurements and the comments can give you a good understanding of what is resonating with your audience.

 

Backlinks

Backlinks are another good thing to monitor and show how many times another website has linked to your podcast.

In theory, the more backlinks you generate the better.

But you also need to look at the quality of those backlinks. For example, there could be a small chance a backlink may be trying to persuade people not to listen to your podcast.

 

Create a dedicated landing page

Creating a dedicated landing page for your podcast is a great idea.

It establishes a home for your podcast, it can offer incentives to encourage new listeners to sign-up and you can use it to thank your subscribers

And it can help you gauge the success of your content. You can measure the hits and engagement on the page and the number of people who go from it and subscribe to the podcast.

 

Special offers and promotions

These are a really easy way to measure the success of your podcast.

Special offers, discounts, incentives and promo codes can either be read out on air by your presenter or used in the text of your landing page.

And by promoting these deals with your podcast, you can pinpoint exactly what leads are coming from your listeners.

A good idea with these types of offers is to set a time limit for them as this may encourage your listeners to take action quickly.

 

Email marketing

Competition for listeners is pretty fierce and you need to work hard to attract and grow your audience.

Email marketing has an important role to play here and we would encourage you to use your mailing list to promote your podcast.

Not only will you increase awareness but there are useful measurements you can use as well, such as open and click rates and the numbers of unsubscribes, all of which will give you an indication of the appeal of your audio content.

 

Context

All of the figures I have mentioned will help you understand the success of your podcast.

But it is also important to have realistic goals.

For example, the more niche the subject you are talking about the harder it is likely to be to attract large numbers of listeners and, on the face of it, your unique downloads may not look that impressive.

However, a relatively small number of dedicated listeners in this instance could be a real business win and show more buying intent than a more general podcast with a bigger audience.

 

Get in touch with one of our account managers to find out how we can help you get your podcast started. You can also find out more about starting a business podcast in this recent blog.

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is a podcast or email marketing.

Graham Jones
19th February 2018 - 5 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.