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Interview Inception: The Ins and Outs of Interviewing

Gloria Averbuch has been an author and broadcaster for over four decades. She is an award-winning author of 13 books on sports, health and fitness. She has worked with Points Group since 2011 and is my senior cohort in the Content Box, heavily immersed in marketing and public relations for a wide variety of clients. I sat down with Gloria to get the inside scoop on the art of interviewing.

Q. What are some of your greatest interviewing moments?

I’ve been speaking to people in an interview capacity professionally since I began working as a journalist. That was in my 20s. I’ve done interviews for all kinds of written materials, from books to magazines and newsletters to anything Internet. I consider my “record” (for the number of interviews conducted for one piece) to be one of my most successful books, for which I interviewed 50 experts and wrote their first-person responses. Every one of them was included in that book.

However, the most memorable interviews were live on air: I interviewed New York City Mayor Ed Koch for my WABC Radio broadcast of the New York City Marathon, and that was challenging in that he notoriously didn’t “suffer fools” among media. I felt a bit nervous, but, fortunately, I was young and naive.

A highlight for me was an interview with New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at the New York City Marathon, the first big event right after 9/11. He was about the most famous person on the planet at that point (and had really good teeth). We were at the start of the Marathon and when he arrived (via helicopter), we were swamped with media right in our faces. My broadcast partner was supposed to interview him, but he was a fairly new broadcaster and he froze. He asked me to do it, and it was awesome.

Q. With those experiences in mind, what is the key to a good interview?

I think there are two aspects to a good interview. The first is being as fully immersed in the person’s background, career and/or topic as possible to show a level of respect. That way, you are able to ask good questions. Many of the people you interview may be answering questions all the time, and so given the chance to raise the level of the game, you get a good response if the questions aren’t the standard “ho-hum”. Even famous people who get interviewed for a living enjoy an interviewer who is well-versed in who they are and what they do.

The second is that you need to develop a rapport right from the beginning, a sense of friendship or warmth. I learned this lesson the hard way when I was assigned someone quite famous in her field whose reputation was well known for being a reluctant interviewee. I was a few minutes in, and she stopped with something like, “Why are you asking me that?” in a curt tone of voice. A real killer of a comment. I told myself don’t freak out. I just spoke up and said, “Why don’t we just start this over?” It took me a few minutes to establish the trust and friendliness, but it ended up coming off just fine. She thawed.

I think that’s the point. You have to make sure you establish some groundwork and not just jump right into things.

Q. Why do you feel interviewing is important for marketing?

The interviewing we do for Points Group is vital to our marketing efforts. This is the case whether it is speaking with medical practice managers, patients or doctors. There is no more insightful or clear path to understanding our clients and communicating that understanding than that of the interview process. This is especially the case in the medical field, where 99 percent or more of those involved never have their experiences, views or insights shared. The only way a consumer finds a good doctor is by referral or chance. But consider the impact if you can hear the doctor speak for him or herself. And what about the patient—who shares the personal journey he or she has had with the physician?

These interviews are the absolute best way to profile our clients and to get the word out. I have seen evidence of this in the number of clients who’ve had patients come in after reading a doctor Q & A or an emotionally-moving patient profile.

If you’re looking to give your patients some insight into your practice and physicians, contact the interviewing professionals at Points Group today.

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