Develop a Winning Interview Style Using These Tips

Develop a Winning Interview Style Using These Tips

One Writer’s Secrets for Creating Successful Thought Leadership Content. Hint: it All Starts with the Interview

In an age of influencers, thought leadership has become a critical part of every marketer’s toolbox. We’ve covered the topic in depth in previous posts, including its benefits, building a team to create thought leadership content and a few strategies for deploying the end product. But if you’re behind the scenes, ghostwriting someone else’s thought leadership content, you’re tasked with accurately capturing their ideas while transforming them into something compelling.

Thought leadership content can take many forms, like podcast appearances, media interviews or keynote presentations at industry conferences. I work most frequently on written thought leadership, which includes blog posts published on a company’s website or articles appearing in third-party publications like magazines, newspapers or other websites. So, my job involves interviewing thought leaders on a given topic and turning what I learn into something that editors and readers will find interesting and insightful. 

The interview is at the center of this process, so nailing that conversation is critical. I didn’t go to J-school, so I’ve had to develop my own process over the years. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.


Establish the Topic Early

If you begin a thought leadership interview by saying, “what do you want to talk about today,” you’re already playing from behind. Thought leaders are typically executives and business leaders who are carving time from their busy schedules to speak with you. You can return that favor by providing a specific topic when you schedule the interview. Establishing a clear and direct topic upfront allows you to use limited time more efficiently. It also gives you an opportunity to develop more interesting questions and offers your interviewee time to organize their thoughts.

These topics can come from anywhere. Keyword research is often an excellent place to begin brainstorming. Consulting the client by holding separate brainstorming sessions can also be beneficial. Your subject will understand what’s happening in their industry and may have topics they’re already passionate about and excited to discuss. If you’re using a content calendar (and you really should be), plot your topics out as far in advance as possible to give yourself plenty of time to prepare.

Quick Tip: I like to include the article topic in my calendar invitations to provide my interview partner with an additional prompt before our conversation.


Pick Your Interview Format

Another important consideration is the format your interview will follow. I will always opt for a phone interview primarily because it allows me to focus on listening during the conversation and taking thorough notes. By contrast, I find video interviews distracting because I’m forced to divide my attention between my notes, the conversation, and maintaining eye contact. Of course, you could always record your video interview if your subject agrees and focus your attention solely on the conversation. The downside here is that you’ll have to re-review the discussion, which adds additional time to the process. 

My least favorite type of interview is the written Q&A. Not only does this format require more upfront work, but it also makes follow-up questions tremendously difficult, which is where I believe the real magic happens in these conversations. Also, choosing a Q&A format can dramatically extend the interview timeline because it could take several days or even weeks for your subject to respond. So, to achieve the best results possible, I recommend scheduling a live phone interview whenever you have that opportunity. 

Quick Tip: I include a note in every calendar invite saying, “Josh will call you at [phone number] when it’s time for our interview. This eliminates the awkward question of who is calling who. 


Prepare for the Interview

Once you’ve established a topic, agreed on an interview format and scheduled a time to talk, the interview prep process begins. Depending on the topic, you may need to do your own research to start developing questions. If you’ve opted for a Q&A format, this is where you’ll do the bulk of your work. Your questions will need to be precise and crystal clear because you may not be able to ask for clarifying information. You also can’t send a list of 25 questions and expect to receive quality answers. Instead, prioritize your content by setting a ten-question limit and ask them as succinctly as possible.

In-person interviews don’t require such intense preparation. I typically establish five or six broad questions before the conversation and then use follow-up questions to discover more interesting and specific information. Sometimes outlining what I don’t know about a topic and turning them into questions is an excellent jumping-off point for an interview. Of course, if you’ve provided your interview subject with the topic beforehand, they will hopefully come prepared with things to discuss.

Quick Tip: I organize my questions as headings in my note document in an order I think flows most naturally. However, I don’t hesitate to veer from that order if it seems appropriate.


Have a Conversation

I always approach in-person interviews as a friendly conversation between peers. If you’re lucky, your interview subject will be comfortable, gregarious and eager to share what they know. If that’s the case, I allow them to lead the conversation and only interject with follow-up questions or to redirect if they stray off topic. 

It’s not uncommon to encounter people who’ve never participated in an interview and doubt their knowledge or ability to be interesting. Here, you’ll have to play a more active role in the conversation until you can establish a rapport with the other person and they gain a little confidence. 

Occasionally, you’ll come across someone who only provides short answers to questions and cannot elaborate or expand on the material you’ve brought to the interview. In these cases, you’ll have to do much more prodding to get the content you’ll need. I’ll often ask the same question in a few different ways in hopes of uncovering new facets of information. 

No matter what type of person you talk with, expressing your eagerness and enthusiasm for the topic and your interview partner’s knowledge — either directly or through your questioning — is the best way to get your interviewee excited to share what they know.

Quick Tip: I end every interview by saying, “are there any questions I should have asked that I didn’t?” Sometimes the best material comes out of these moments.


Allow for Follow-Up & Approval

Once you’ve exhausted your questions or reached the end of your interview time, you should ask for an opportunity to follow up with your subject if you have additional questions or need clarification. No matter how perfect your notes may seem, you’re bound to run across something that doesn’t make sense during a re-read or a concept you thought you understood at the moment but then becomes confusing again. In most cases, follow-up questions work well over email. 

It’s also best practice to allow your interview subject to review the finished piece before sending it out for publication. Whatever you produce will be published under someone else’s name, so they need to be willing to stand behind whatever goes out to the public. 

Quick Tip: When you do send the final draft out for review, add some urgency to the process by including a specific date for when you need it returned. 


An Interview is a Partnership

Ultimately, the process of interviewing and writing these pieces should be a partnership between you and your thought leaders. After all, you both bring specific knowledge and skills to the table. The interviewer is the facilitator who draws information they don’t possess from their subject and turns it into concrete collateral. By contrast, the interviewee has valuable knowledge that others want and need but doesn’t have the time or ability to turn it into a consumable form. 

The interview is the point where these two participants meet and collaborate to create something neither of them could make on their own. If you, as the interviewer, can enter these conversations fully prepared, with curiosity and an open mind, you’ll be ready to make the most of these opportunities.

Start Brewing Up Your Thought Leadership Efforts [Podcast]

Start Brewing Up Your Thought Leadership Efforts [Podcast]

An AMA Puget Sound Interview with Julie Lichtenberg

Amy Rosenberg had the opportunity to interview on AMA Puget Sound’s Coffee Talk Series with host Julie Lichtenberg. Amy shared her knowledge of thought leadership and why many organizations are using thought leadership in their PR and Marketing strategies. 

Episode highlights 

  • According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, a thought leader is a more trusted source than the media.
  • The ways thought leadership could help recruit and retain employees.
  • Where to start with thought leadership efforts and how to identify thought leaders within an organization.
  • Tangible tips on incorporating thought leadership into your marketing strategy and why it makes a difference.

Listen to the episode on the PR Talk Podcast, or head to the AMA Puget Sound YouTube channel and subscribe!

Don’t Miss an Episode

If you haven’t already subscribed to the PR Talk Podcast, you can find more great episodes on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and Spotify. While you’re there, don’t forget to rate and review the show!

About AMA Puget Sound

AMA Puget Sound is committed to delivering conversations with thought leaders and practitioners within marketing. The Coffe Talk series format is a candid 30-minute conversation around a central topic related to marketing, career development, and more. The goal is to give the audience tips and advice to use immediately. The live show is hosted weekly on Thursdays at 11 a.m. PST. 


PR Talk is part of the Marketing Podcast Network

The Marketing Podcast Network gives brands that sell to marketers direct access to reach thousands of buyers via their trusted media source: Marketing podcasts. Browse our library of shows and see where your message can be placed to reach prospective customers ripe for your message.


This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Four Ways to Repurpose Content For Social Media

Four Ways to Repurpose Content For Social Media

Frequency and consistency are vital to growing a social media presence organically. However, even the most creative people run out of content ideas sometimes. So if you’re unsure what to post, we have good news: the ideas are within reach. The content you’ve already shared online took time and energy, so why not give it another boost? You can ignite your creative spark again by reviving older content, but with a new spin. 

Today we’ll outline easy ways to create new content from old blog posts, photos, interviews, etc. By doing so, you won’t skip a beat with your posting strategy, and you’ll breathe new life into the content you’ve previously shared. 


How to Create Repurposed Social Media Content 

Adding creative flair to existing media is easier than you think. You just need the right formula. Below are four types of effective social media content and examples of using each one. 


Video and Audio Snippets

What you have: Video interview

How you can use it: Review the interview and note any timestamps that are funny, educational, inspiring, or impactful in a way that aligns with your brand. Timestamps generally should be no more than one minute long. Videos between 15 seconds and 60 seconds are ideal because they are more likely to keep the viewer’s attention, and they work well across all platforms. As a rule of thumb, aim to grab at least one snippet for every 10 minutes of the video. When you’ve trimmed each clip to its designated timestamp, format the video clips so that they are optimized for the platform you’re using. For example, vertical videos (9:16 aspect ratio) are recommended for Instagram Reels and TikTok. Meanwhile, horizontal (16:9 aspect ratio) or square videos are best for native videos on LinkedIn or Twitter.

What you have: Podcast episode (audio only)

How you can use it: This is similar to pulling video snippets, but of course, without the video. In cases where you only have an audio file, you’ll need to create a video file (.mp4) that includes the audio sound bite with an image overlay. In most cases, podcasts typically have a cover image you can use. Same as above, format the .mp4 file to optimize it for the platform. Square video is the most straightforward when using a podcast image, but you can also get creative with vertical videos. You’ll see a screenshot example of an Instagram Reel soundbite we used to promote our PR Talk episode with Emmy Thomas, VP of Brand and Marketing at Logical Position. It shows how the square podcast image sits on top of an animated wave background.

What you have: Blog post

How you can use it: Summarizing the points from an earlier blog post, you, your client, or a team member can record a quick video to share on social media. Video production on social media has come a long way, but you’re camera-ready as long as you have a clean phone camera and a well-lit space. Then, post the video and direct them to the blog URL to learn more. Below is an example of a short video by Veracity’s Cailyn Tegel from her blog post “Four Tips for Crafting an Attention-Grabbing Headline.”


Quotes and Infographics

What you have: Blog post, interview, inspirational or educational video, podcast episode

How you can use it: Even in busy newsfeeds, the right quote will grab attention. Quotes can come from a blog post, interview, or really any form of relevant media. When choosing a quote, you’re looking for impact—one that will resonate meaningfully with your audience. 


What you have: Blog post

How you can use it: A well-written blog post is a wealth of information. From research data to how-to tips, it can all be turned into an infographic for social media. While tall infographics have their place (more on that later), square images are a reliable choice across platforms. You can also opt for a horizontal image to share on LinkedIn and Twitter. If you’re posting to Instagram, consider creating a carousel post where users can swipe to learn more information. Below are a few examples of simple yet effective infographics we’ve developed from previous blog posts.

If you’re still finding your footing with brand and design, use Canva’s library of templates to get you started. With so many to choose from, it’s easy to find a design that suits your content. Next, just customize the colors and fonts to make it your own. 



What you have: Previously posted photo

How you can use it: A high-quality photo doesn’t need to be retired the moment you post it. In the right context, you can certainly share it again. The key is timeliness. Photos with a post caption relevant to an observance or current event have a higher chance of engagement, perhaps even higher than the first time you posted it. When choosing a photo to reshare, you just want to make sure that the same photos are not too close together in your feed. 


Downloadable Resources

What you have: Blog posts

How you can use it: There are actually multiple marketing benefits to creating downloadable resources from blog posts. First, it’s content you can regularly promote on social media with a few images or graphics on rotation; second, it’s a fresh way to promote the original content; and third, you can capture downloaders’ email addresses to grow your contact list for email marketing campaigns. Here are three ideas of downloadable PDF resources you can create:

  1. Tall Infographic: While social media infographics offer a short summary or highlight a point or piece of data, vertical infographics combine images and copy to map out a complete concept. The standard size of these designs are 800 x 2000 px, and they are a visual representation of a full blog post.
  2. Ebook: Compile some of your highest-performing blog posts into an ebook. With a bit of editing and re-formatting, you can create a “Complete Guide” to a topic of your expertise. 
  3. Fillable Template: Take how-to blog posts a step further by creating a fillable template readers can use for their own efforts. For example, in our post, “Planning Your Content Marketing,” we also offer a free Content Master Plan template available for download. Below is one of the graphics we created to promote it on social media.


Stop Spinning Your Wheels

When it comes to your social media content strategy, it pays to “work smarter, not harder.” Repurposing older content in a new, relevant way allows you to stay consistent and reinforce your brand’s message. So if you’re feeling stuck, look no further. Your next idea is already waiting for you. 

Four Tips for Crafting an Attention-Grabbing Headline

Four Tips for Crafting an Attention-Grabbing Headline

It’s April Fools’ Day, but instead of tricks, we are here to give you some tips to help when you are writing your next headline. When crafting a headline, there are many things to consider when trying to grab your audience’s attention. Writing a headline can be a tricky task, but hopefully, these four tips will help on your next go-around.


Tip #1: Ask the Right Questions


Who is your audience?

Knowing your audience is the foundation for good communication. When you write a headline, think about what you know about your audience and what kind of action statement might pique their interest to keep reading. For example, if your piece was published in a “Mom’s Only” magazine, you might want to consider that moms can be very busy, so a quick action headline might do the trick. The main idea is to connect with your audience and create a headline that speaks to them so they want to read more.


How long can my headline be?

You want to capture the readers’ attention quickly, and to do so, you should consider keeping your headline between one to two lines (lines as in the width of a page, not sentences); the rule of thumb is between 3-10 words. Once you have the reader’s attention, you have a short amount of engagement time, since the average time frame for an individual’s attention span is about 8 seconds. When you keep the headline short, it will give the reader a glimpse of what they can gain from the full copy.


Tip #2: Consider Word Variety

The words you choose can change the urgency or the way a headline reads. Words that appeal to readers’ feelings or senses are more likely to grab attention. Also, using verbs can elevate and give life to your headline. For example, “Stocks Were High on Saturday” to “Stocks Were Roaring on Saturday,” may be more enticing to readers.

Another rule-of-thumb for crafting effective headlines is to use simple, straightforward words. A descriptive verb, as noted above, can be more attention-grabbing than complex or buzzwords words. Keep in mind, your headline also does not necessarily need to follow standard grammatical rules. That said, when you choose your words, you may want to consider some of these widely accepted rules to ensure you craft a reader-friendly headline. 

Sometimes, however, the right words may seem elusive. If you are having trouble getting started, or feel stuck, don’t panic. If you have the time, set the task aside and come back to it later. Another trick is to just start writing. Write anything, no matter how silly, to help get your creative juices flowing again. Or, go online to read headlines in some of your favorite publications or sites. Doing that may give you the boost you need to create your own catchy headline. 


Tip #3: Use Numbers

If you can slip relevant numbers in your headline, you may be surprised by the difference it makes. As we did for this piece’s headline, numbers are an effective way to draw in your audience. Numbers attract the eye because they automatically organize information into a logical order, which our brains love! They also give order to what is to come in the article and help the audience know what to expect.

The rule usually is that if you are writing any number below 10, it should be spelled out, but in the case of headlines, this rule can be overlooked to save time for the reader. Some even say the ordinal form has more attraction, but we’ll let you be the judge of that based on these headline examples: “Seven Kittens Rescued from Burning Building” or “7 Kittens Rescued from Burning Building.” Which seems better to you?


Tip #4: Let the TACT Test Be Your Guide

When you are writing a headline, it may be helpful to review it to check and make sure it passes the TACT test, which is outlined below. 

Taste. Is your headline tasteful? Will it offend anyone?

Attractiveness. Does it attract the reader? What might you do to make it even stronger?

Clarity. Is it clear and concise? Are there any phrases that can be replaced with one word?

Truth. Is it truthful? Can anything be misconstrued?

Remember, your headline can be a condensed version of the story that follows. Its main purpose is to get the rest of the story read. Every word counts, so following the TACT guidelines can help you think about the value and meaning of each word – and if there’s an opportunity to choose an even stronger, compelling word to draw in readers. 



At-A-Glance Checklist

To make these tips easier to refer to, use this handy checklist to help you create effective and attention-grabbing headlines.

  • Use action words/verbs
  • Keep your headline between three to 10 words
  • Consider what will motivate your audience 
  • Include numbers when possible 
  • Check your headline using TACT

We hope this helps the next time you need to write a headline, and inspires you to create the one that grabs the most attention. 

Four Tips For Crafting an Attention-Grabbing Headline
Tips for Creating iPhone Videos

Tips for Creating iPhone Videos

Updated for 2019! Creating share-worthy videos is easy!

The primary update to these tips is in regards to #4 below, shoot horizontally. With more and more social media (and website usage) being consumed on smartphones, it is not ALWAYS best to film horizontally. According to this post by Covideo, 94% of smartphone videos are consumed vertically…people simply aren’t willing (or able in the case of many apps like Twitter and Instagram) to turn their phones. So shooting vertically may be best when your target channel is social and your social audience consumes your content on their phone.

If you don’t want to invest in buying equipment or can’t wait for it to arrive, you can certainly create iPhone videos without any extra gear all by yourself. The video below was created without using external equipment and handheld by the speaker (me). No tripod, no external microphone, no special lighting. It’s really pretty easy to get a post-worthy video with just a little thought.

You can also view the video on YouTube for some tips on taking videos with an iPhone (or most any smartphone) including:

  1. Be aware of your lighting. Shooting outside (be sure the sun is not directly behind you) or near windows is good if you do not have lighting equipment.
    • Take a sample video to see how it looks. Experiment using the phone’s flash, or the flash of a second phone.
  2. Do not use your phone’s zoom (zoom the old fashion way by moving toward or away from your subject).
  3. Use your “exposure lock” on an iPhone (and most other smartphones).
    • This is done by touching your screen to “lock” in on your subject, hold your touch until it displays “AE/AF LOCK” which will help keep the lens from changing the exposure (how much light it lets in) automatically.
  4. Shoot horizontally.
    • Unless the primary purpose is for social media feeds (vertical shots do not play well on websites, but social users on mobile prefer vertical)
  5. Have a steady hand or prop your phone on something stable.
    • Or you can use a tripod (you can find a great one for around $20). Check Amazon Prime for a variety of options.
  6. Place the phone’s microphone close to your subject.
    • Or get an external microphone, we use a clip-on lavalier with an extension cord.

You can also easily step up your production value by investing a little (certainly under $100) by purchasing a tripod &/or external microphone. The following video was taken using a tripod and external microphone (again, no extra/special lighting). The set-up used to film the below video included a tripod, lapel microphone and extension cord, all for about $50.

Quick Tips for Creating an iPhone Video (w/ tripod and microphone) from Veracity Marketing on Vimeo.

Once you have recorded your video, see our tips to edit your videos and tips on uploading and publishing your videos.



Networking Tips for Your Next Holiday Party

Networking Tips for Your Next Holiday Party

‘Tis the season for the holiday party. Whether you love the office mixer or dread another December full of evening obligations, you are likely going to a few seasonal get-togethers. Interested in spending that time wisely to further your career or business? Here are eight networking tips for your next holiday party:

1. Show up. 90% of success is showing up, right?

Some holiday events are basically mandatory, while others you may not HAVE to go to but you should. Yes, we are all busy, but many of these events only come around once a year and if you want to expand your network, show up. If you are unable to attend an event you are expressly invited to be sure to send a pleasant note that you can’t make it. Also, if the event has a charitable component (food drive, gift donation, etc.), consider still donating if you can’t attend, the host will be appreciative.

2. Have fun.

No one wants to hang with the sour-faced guy. If you really don’t want to be there, don’t go…however.

You don’t have to be the life of the party. Unless you are in the PR department, then promotion is your job!

3. When should I get there?

Like most things in life, it depends…Here are my guidelines for a few different types of gatherings:

Office Party

(informal at the office or offsite, during the workday or right after work)

Arrive on time and plan to stay for a couple hours or until the official end time. Don’t stick around too long.

Company Party

(more formal at a private residence or swanky establishment, evening start time)

It’s good form to be a little late to a company party being held at a private home. Like any party, your hosts are likely running a little behind and you being the first to show up isn’t a great look. Plan to stay for a few hours, but also try and be flexible with your curfew. If you are having a great time and bonding with new contacts, it’s a shame to have to leave just to get home for a babysitter that doesn’t really care anyway.

Client or Vendor Party

Totally depends on your relationship — if you are going to do a flyby and not stay very long, try and add a few extra minutes so it doesn’t seem like you are in and out. Make a point to connect and say hello to the person that invited you as soon as you can.

4. Participate and dress appropriately.

Participate? Many holiday events have a theme or predetermined activity. If the event is an ugly sweater, wear your ugliest. If it’s a food or toy drive, bring a donation. Secret Santas and White Elephants are fun, try and plan ahead a little so you can have a good gift.

If you don’t know the attire ask someone who has gone before or use a little common sense based on the time, location and culture of the host(s).

Phyllis from accounting

© NBC Universal, Inc

5. Talk to NEW people, including +1’s

You can always plan an after party with your bros…or really, you probably see them enough the rest of the year.

Since you’re reading this post, I assume you’re interested in networking. If so, get outside your inner circle and meet new people. The holiday party is a great way to get to know your boss, Phyllis from accounting or the new intern. Not only is it good form to engage with your co-workers’ guests, you may find a great connection outside of The Office.

5a. Ask questions and actually listen to the answers.

Don’t expect to know what to talk about offhand. Have a variety of topics ready to go and spend a little time thinking about what you’d say. If someone asks you a question, answer and reciprocate. Here are a few suggestions for non-worky topics:

  • What’s the best book you read this year?
  • Do you listen to podcasts? What are you currently listening to?
  • Christmas Story or Christmas Vacation?

The list can go on and on, talk about what you are interested in. TV shows, sports, holiday travel plans, etc. It is ok to get intimate and into a real conversation, at least for a little while, but probably best to avoid politics.

6. Have an exit plan.

When it is time to go (see #3) be sure to find the host to thank them and say goodbye. Also, if there is a party planning committee, thank them and consider a thank you gesture because putting on these events is a lot of work. You can also follow-up with an email or handwritten note. If you feel like you need to sneak away, you are leaving too early.

Office Christmas Party

Glen Wilson / Paramount Pictures

7. Know your limits.

What list of holiday networking tips would be complete without this one? However, there seems to always be a few partygoers that hit it a little too hard. If you do need to get your drink on, save it for the after party or grandma’s house. That way you won’t end up like Clay and Walter at ZenoTek.


BONUS HOST TIP: Have plenty of non-alcoholic beverage choices. While everyone wants to have a good time, not everyone wants beer, wine or…water. This also goes a long way in helping people stick to their limits. Most people want to have a drink in their hand and if there are lots of options (a signature booze-less drink perhaps) they aren’t as likely to overindulge.

8. You are an adult, get home like one.

Featured image courtesy of AMC