Transitioning an Interview into Website Content
Let’s back up a bit. First off, is an interview the right content for your target website? What value will it provide for readers or clients and how will that translate to what the target website should do (i.e. sell, inform, direct, deflect, etc.)? Oftentimes freelance writing uses interviews to give projects more validity or to raise traffic levels. The approach is usually advertised ahead of time and frequently involves someone who is already an expert or famous in their field, thereby automatically drawing interest.
Second, the interview needs to be scripted. You don’t just go out, find a name, and start asking whatever comes off the top of your head. The interviewee usually needs to be contacted ahead of time, given an idea of the purpose of the interview, and then the questions need to be prepared ahead of time. Sometimes an interviewee may not agree with use and won’t cooperate. Then another candidate needs to be found as a replacement. Trying to catch a targeted person in public on the street is a bad idea because he or she will often disown any statement used or, if associated with a business purpose, could sue for misuse of their name, words and image. Cooperation is always the best path and the least expensive in terms of risks.
Third, a decision needs to be made as to how the interview will be provided to readers – whether it will be an actual video and a summary or whether it will be a narrative with select parts of the interview provided in writing. Both appeal to audiences different ways.
If you’re going to go the route of a written form, it requires a specific style of writing. You should be experienced in producing interview articles already. Look at a few examples in magazines and note how the editors selected specific parts of the interview, how they segue into each other, and how the writer injects summaries before, between, and after question & answer sections. There is a definite flow to the article as it is constructed professionally.
Embedding the interview movie file into a website with a summary is a lot easier as the interview session just speaks for itself. However, you still need to make a decision whether to edit the interview or display the clip in its entirety. That requires some video editing of the movie file before it gets posted on a website. That said, this approach does reduce a lot of the related writing involved and readers can watch the interaction themselves with multimedia. The approach doesn’t work for every website, but it is a nice feature that breaks up otherwise a lot of written content to wade through.
Interviews can produce a big bang with content readers, especially on sites with active updates and participation, but they need to be used with lots of preparation. Just slapping a shoddy interview together will actually damage your website reputation and get the ugly label of “amateur” associated with the content.
Tom L writes articles at night and spends his daytime hours managing big projects, contracts and budgets. Planning and prevention are two key tools he uses regularly to avoid problems before they occur