One of the growing trends we have seen in public relations is the email interview.
Today, many journalists prefer this method. While this notion may make some old school reporters cringe, it an extremely efficient, timesaving method that is beneficial to both online publications and print publications. While print newsrooms may be shrinking by the year, news itself isn’t. In reality, the information age has left us with more news than ever to cover and fewer journalists to do so.
Businesses that have a goal of obtaining more news coverage will likely encounter a situation in which an email interview is requested. Gladly accept. The email interview allows you to answer questions in an eloquent and thoughtful manner and deliver to the reporter the messaging that best suits your company. There are no surprise questions, no vital information left out, and no “what were they thinking??” quotes to be found.
We recommend the following rules when partaking in an email interview:
1) Read all of the questions first. This may seem like a no-brainer, but before you even think about answering, make sure you get a feel for the entire interview. This is something that is not possible in a live interview.
2) Don’t worry about the order. In traditional interviews, the flow of the conversation is in the hand of the interviewer. Answer the questions that you feel strongest about first and take your time on the ones that you need more time on.
3) Get a second or third opinion. Review the questions as well as answers with a coworker and make sure that you are responding in a way that gets the message across. Also, there is no excuse for typos.
4) Be quick in your turnaround. Always ask the reporter when his / her deadline is, and be sure to deliver the answers by that time. This method is intended to be a timesaver for the reporter – don’t make it a hassle by making him / her chase you down.
Another thing to consider when responding to an email interview is that there likely will be no follow-up questions. In verbal interviews, you can guide the reporter to ask follow-up questions and get to the heart of the most important issues. In an email interview, this isn’t possible. So be proactive. If there’s a point, topic, or trend you think is critical, add it in either one of your responses or at the end of the interview. Just because a question hasn’t been asked doesn’t mean you shouldn’t communicate the important stuff. This is especially true in the low-pressure situation of an email interview.
Finally, it’s ok to not answer irrelevant questions and instead focus on the issues that will help you position yourself best and will help the reporter write the best story. A bad question is a bad question regardless of what form it comes in – the email interview simply gives you more time to answer in a manner that benefits you the most.
If you have any questions about email interviews, feel free to email me at email@example.com.