When building your content strategy, interviews should be part of it. By interviewing people in your industry, especially those with a loyal following, you accomplish three very important things with minimal effort: You strengthen the relationship with that person by promoting them and giving them a stage, you benefit from the traffic they drive when they share the interview with their audience, and you elevate your own brand by aligning it with leaders in the industry.
For that to happen, the interview process needs to be executed to perfection. Here are the steps to follow if you want to start interviewing people on your company blog:
Start with a guest wish list and mix things up.
Of course you want to interview the biggest names out there, but you also want to kick off this campaign in a timely manner. Don't wait for the big names to respond, and instead get started with some people who are already in your network and who you know will agree to do the interview.
Once you have some interviews published, it gives you credibility to then approach the bigger names, but the most important thing here is that you create that wish list. Start with 20 people, 10 who are accessible and 10 who would be a huge win if you are able to get them to agree.
Create a standard outreach message and figure out where to send it.
The message you send the person asking if they would agree to do an interview needs to be personalized if you want it to be effective, but the basics are the same. It should include an opening sentence about your campaign and how you are interviewing leaders and would like to include that person. Of course, a link to previous interviews is helpful as well.
Then the question is, what platform you are using to send the message? That requires research. Where is this person active? Where do they engage? If they are not active on Twitter, perhaps check Facebook. If not there, maybe LinkedIn. Always better to keep it informal before going to email, which is a bit more impersonal.
Make a repository from which you can extract questions based on the specific person.
The interview format should be pretty consistent. Five or 10 questions you send by email or you ask on the phone, depending on the preference of the person. So if you are going for 10, then maybe make a list of 30 or 40 questions all together, and given the specific interview, you can choose which questions are most relevant.
Don't forget to have some questions pertaining to context. Start off the interview asking the person to tell your readers their background story. That is always a good way to frame the rest of the interview.
Send the final draft for review before publishing.
This is crucial. Sometimes things get lost over the phone or people make mistakes when sending an email. Make sure the person sees and approves the interview before publishing it. After all, you have a mutual interest to make that person look good. Otherwise, they won't share it or appreciate it and you will have accomplished nothing.
Don't forget to send the live link and a thank-you to the person you interviewed.
A thank-you email should never be underrated. Thanking the person with a nice follow-up email is always appreciated. Include the link and maybe even a caption or a link to your tweet for them to share if they are so inclined, but be subtle. Don't ask or demand that they share it. That kind of aggressive marketing usually accomplishes the opposite of what you were hoping for.
Share the interview far and wide, and tag the person appropriately.
Once the article is live, share it across platforms and make sure you optimize the link for each site. So for Twitter, the caption should be shorter obviously and the person should be tagged correctly in your tweet. For Facebook and LinkedIn, maybe take an excerpt from the interview and share it as a teaser with the link to read the rest. What is important is that you maximize your distribution by taking advantage of the nature of each platform.
Interviews are powerful for one simple reason. You are giving someone else a stage but, since you created that stage, you end up standing right next to them, and you both end up benefiting from the results.