Research: becoming an instant expert Read enough to get started. “Enough” is a function of your deadline Identify possible guests Note who is quoted…and how.
What makes a good guest?-before you pick up the phone The best person to tell your story/ or provide perspective/analysis on your story. Never put someone on air you haven’t check out over the phone. Email, etc. is not good enough for vetting guests.
How to match story and guest… Does your story call for first person account? (owner of dog who saved drowning triplets). A principal player (politician, business leader, community organizer ) who is the motivating force/or key player in a story? A critic/opponent of a principal player or issue? An Analyst? Eye witness ?(natural disasters, crime, etc)
You’ve identified some potential guests, but before you pick up the phone Be clear what you want to ask potential guest…so Research the subject Figure out the focus of the story, what angle you are going to take. But be willing to change it depending on what the subject has to say.
The clock is ticking Put out multiple requests for interviews. Don’t wait for one person to call back before you call the next because… You never know who will call back first.
Giving good phone Courtesy. Have a smile in your voice. Be friendly….or empathetic. Take time to say hello, empathize.
…More good phone Respect people’s time Ask: “Would you have a few moments to talk? “ “I’m wondering if you could help me out with something…?”
…Yet more good phone Cutting through bureaucracy. Who is the gatekeeper? If the person isn’t in: “When would you expect her? Is there another number I can reach her at? How might I get a message to her?”
“They’re on the phone. What do I do?” Size them up. Will she be a good guest? What’s a good guest? A. Good talker—someone the audience wants to listen to (comes in a variety of guises). B. Because what makes a good talker depends on the story.
What to look for in a guest Do they know what they’re talking about? Can they tell the story? Do they speak in words, sentences, or paragraphs (too long)? Or grunts? Are they intelligible? Jargon? Accent/language barriers? Are they interesting to listen to?
If you aren’t sure…then they’re probably not the right person.
The mediocre guest: never blow someone off, until you have a replacement. A medicore guest is better than no guest. Tentatively book them, then say you have to consult your editor. Keep looking for better.
Always ask who else you should talk to on this issue, if you have a weak guest.
Tell them you must consult your editor and will get back to them.
Saying no to Mr. Wrong Be graceful. This person has taken the time with you. Always blame your editor…..
Booking the guest “Would you be willing to talk on the radio about this?” Ask as soon as you know you want them. Worst case: assuming they will do the interview; learning they won’t or can’t. If they say no, ask them for suggestions of who else to interview. Pressuring someone to say yes. Depends on the guest. Be ethical. Draw the line. Accountability interview with public officials.
Closing the deal Confirm date and time. Get emergency contact numbers. Give emergency numbers.
Prepping the guest “What will they ask me ?” Tell guest the focus, but never the questions. Nervous guest. Tell them you just want to have a conversation. Professional guest. Tell him how long an interview you have in mind. Get the name right. “How do you say your name?” Pronunciation…phonetic. If you aren’t sure, ask. Double check latest credentials (people change jobs, etc.).
Intelligent and Engaging Examples…. Gian Ghomeshi on Q
When things go wrong… Lanny Davis Indira Naidoo-Harris
And wrong again The late Barbara Frum on As It Happens
When things go right –Your interview Book studio as soon as you’ve got guest. Draft a rough intro, then 5 simple, focused, open-ended questions +extro. Check intro—does it need to be refocused. Send questions to Meredith for vetting (editing) 24 hrs before interview).
Start by saying this will just take a few minutes of your time. Always say hello and welcome guest.
If your guest isn’t experienced with the media, ask about the weather or some innocuous question to help them relax. Don’t get to the meat of the interview until your guest has loosened up.
In the studio 2 Don’t read questions. Keep them in front of you—but have a conversation. Listen. Be prepared to abandon question or question(s) if what guest is telling you no longer fits, or if they’ve already answered your question. Ask follow up questions in response to their comments. If you need to interrupt, wait until your guest takes a breath, then jump in.
In the studio 3 Spend no more than 10 minutes on interview. If guest is more relaxed and forthcoming as interview progresses, go back and re-ask important questions that didn’t elicit a satisfactory answer. Always say goodbye and thank you. The interview must have a clear end.
Final intros and editing…. Two key aspects to interview.