Ask the Right Questions to Get the Best Content

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Developing a content plan helps keep your organization’s communications consistent and on track when workloads increase and times get hectic. But just getting started on a blog or an article can be a hurdle to following and fulfilling that content plan.

Knowing what questions to ask if you’re interviewing a patient for a healthcare story or a financial advisor for a blog can be the necessary boost to get over that initial content hurdle.

The tips below are what I learned and practiced as a newspaper reporter. Talking to people – from CEOs to individuals who had never been interviewed before – was part of the everyday gig, and I had to plan for and navigate conversations that were easy and others that were more difficult and yielded fewer answers to my questions.

Start broad

When gathering details for content, start your conversation broad – that helps the person feel more comfortable with the conversation and you get to know each other better.

If it’s a profile, ask about the person’s background, like where they grew up, went to school, or did their professional training.

With a particularly complex topic, I sometimes like to start by asking the person to give me their elevator speech on the topic or to explain it to me like I’m a child (or someone who’s not familiar with the topic or industry at all). You may not use that exact language in your writing, but it gives you background to then produce content that makes sense to you and your future reader.

Follow up

Oftentimes, people will give you all you need to know after that first question. And sometimes, they even apologize for rambling, but I always reassure them I’d rather have too many details rather than too few.

Make notes within your notes while the person is talking so you can remember to follow up on additional or specific questions. Or, even better, create a list of questions for different types of content – blogs, patient stories, articles, etc. – so you keep your content consistent and get the same information from people along the way.

Give room for more

A common reporter trick at the end of an interview is to always inquire, “Is there anything I didn’t ask?” or “Is there anything you want to add that we didn’t cover?”

This question often solicits the best quotes or a perfect summary of the entire topic/conversation. I find that people sometimes give me the lede or opening sentence/paragraph of my content, or at least a great quote with that last question.

Keep in touch

Ask the person if it’s OK to reach out after the conversation if you have more questions. It’s reassuring and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a “no” when I’ve asked that.

Everyone has a cellphone these days, so you can confirm if a simple text could be an easy way to ask a quick follow-up question or confirm a time to connect again.

Be sure to share your content with the contact and tag them on social media so they can share, too.

These interview tips create better connections with your subjects and, ultimately, make for better content. They are more ways to keep content stress free – and the team here at Chartwell Agency can help clear those content hurdles.