After conducting thousands of interviews for magazine articles, case studies, and corporate blogs, I’ve come to understand the elements that make or break an interview with a reporter or freelance writer.
To help managers and executives avoid the pitfalls and mistakes commonly made by those on the “answer” end of a Q&A session, I’ve
created my list of Deadly Media Interview Sins.
Publicity Lust—Don’t be overtly commercial in your comments. Give and you shall receive. In other words, if you provide quality commentary, the writer will do the publicity work for you.
Word Gluttony—Speak in quotable sound bites, not rambling off-topic tangents. Listen closely to the interviewer’s questions. A good interviewer is leading you toward the goal line. Remember, the interviewer wants you to succeed in providing quotable material. The more you hone in on what’s needed, the more likely you’re going to receive a good deal of coverage in the article.
Answer sloth—The opposite of a Word Glutton is an Answer Sloth. It’s a good idea to avoid lazy, overly general responses or one-word answers. Answer fully and with excitement, conviction, and energy. Your enthusiasm will come through in print or on the Web page.
Information Greed—It’s best to be as forthcoming as possible during the interview. Come to the call ready to share information and anecdotal stories with the interviewer. The more details and engaging stories you can provide, the stronger you’ll appear in print. If there are statistics or other data points that you don’t have at your fingertips, it’s okay to say you’ll get
back to the interviewer with them. After the call, follow up promptly with the numbers.
My article (What to do with it) surveying innovative schools’ leaders on their plans for putting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to good use appears in the June issue of Technology & Learning. The article is part of a series of stories about the ARRA of 2009.
I’ve been delving ever more deeply into how school districts are deploying technology in the wake of the ARRA. A feature I wrote on school data reporting under the new federal guidelines is scheduled to appear in the July issue of the magazine.
I've been entrusted with writing the content of Automation World's Safety Automation Review, sponsored by Rockwell Automation. Each quarter, I produce two features (and a number of product reviews) for the site, which is meant as a resources for safety automation professionals.
The content is sufficiently weighty, yet bite-sized enough for a Web-based format. See, for example, my article entitled, Integrating Safety: Using a Safety Portfolio to Improve Bottom Line Performance. The right balance is struck between journalistic integrity and the sponsor's objectives, which makes this an ideal model for similar online endeavors in the B2B publishing space.
This Automation World site an excellent example of a corporate-sponsored microsite that strives to provide high-quality, timely information to a technical audience. I'm proud to be associated with the site and serve as its lead technology writer.
More of my work on the Safety Automation Review can be found at the following links:
Akgmag.com recently interviewed me about my career as a freelance writer.
During the Q&A, Akgmag's interviewer, Marita, asked if I had a favorite type of project. I replied, "I mainly focus on the use of technology in a number of industries, including education, manufacturing, renewable energy, and food/beverage. I enjoy writing corporate case studies. I’ve written more than 250 of them over the years. I actively seek out those opportunities. I find writing about how companies use products and services to improve their businesses to be very fascinating and enjoyable work. However, I’m always open to exploring new territory. A good writer can take any topic and make it come to life."
You can find the entire interview here.
Thank you to Marita and everyone at Akgmag.com for their interest in my work.
The quest to gain a marketing foothold too often leads corporations down one or another Yellow Brick Road. In today's hyper-competitive marketplace, the impulse to rise like a towering Emerald City is understandable; but what Dorothy eventually came to understand–and what market leaders are leveraging today with remarkable success–is that the key to sustaining the most interest is typically much closer to home.
You want the world to beat a path to your door? Then show it the faces who have crossed your threshold.
Even today customer case histories provide strong, independent evidence of how a company's products and services are working in the marketplace. Companies use this tool in many diverse ways–Web content, media placement, white paper support, for example.
When a company effectively tells prospects about its most effective stories–why your product works, what they mean to those who use them, and how it's good business to be doing business with you–the marketing advantages are clear. This was true 20 years ago when I first began writing corporate case studies, and it is still true today.