Brand Journalism: Video Pre-Interviews Ensure You Get Great Stuff on Tape

Brand Journalism Video Pre-Interviews Ensure You Get Great Stuff on Tape

I was responsible for advisor conference communications several years ago for a large financial service company. A video that highlighted the top-performing financial advisors and managing general agents who were to be honored at the spring recognition conference was one of the essential aspects. It had to be completed within a concise time frame. Nine interviews were taped across the country in three and a half weeks.

I was a newcomer to communications and had never worked with the video team. It was shocking to discover that they had not shown up in the advisor’s office with a camera and lights in years past. The advisor didn’t know what questions they would ask, and neither did they. This can lead to uncomfortable situations for both the advisor and the client.


Pre-interviews are a standard part of current broadcast affairs. The pre-interview is the best way to learn, having trained in broadcast journalism and worked once on a current radio news program. This ensures that your video crew, whether it is one person or three (cameras, lights, and sound), gets the best sound clips or sound bites possible. Pre-interviews are essential for any type of video that includes one-on-one interviews (with clients, executives, or employees) in order to tell your brand story effectively.

Pre-interviews are precisely the same as the interview that the video team will do on the camera. It’s only done over the phone before the scheduled taping. This is why you need to ensure that your communication team has the resources to accomplish this task. For example, assign pre-interviews for junior members of your team. You can also hire outsourcers if you don’t have the internal resources. This requires someone with a journalism background and who can ask interesting, relevant questions.

One specialist can be assigned to a project if there are multiple interviews and an in-house communications team. The specialist can work with other colleagues. In my case, all interviews were conducted by me the first time. In a short time, I was almost insane. Lesson learned. Next time, I managed a team consisting of communication specialists. I did three pre-interviews and gave three to my team members. This not only made it easier to do the pre-interviews but also made it much faster and more efficient to complete them in a short time.

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What do pre-interviews look like?

Three things are accomplished by the pre-interview:

It prepares the interviewee and the video producer, who are often the ones recording the interviews. Because everyone knows what the interview is about, it creates a sense of security. (More on this later).

It helps you decide if the interviewee you are speaking with is the right person to interview for your video team. If the person you are speaking to on the phone seems uncomfortable or is giving only one-word answers, it’s time to say thank you and move on to the next source.

This saves time for the video crew. They arrive, get set up, and then they go. No one’s time is wasted.
Answering the questions

Pre-interview is where you will create a focus statement (or series of questions) and a Q-line (or series of questions) that you can pass on to the producer. First, you need to write down as many questions as possible for the person. It is essential to know the who, what, and why of your loved one. Listen to the person. Do not get so focused on what questions you are going to ask that it is impossible to miss something important. Follow-up with an unplanned question if they make an interesting point. It will be fantastic to see the unexpected insights that you uncover. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking, “Could I give you an example of that?” Or “That’s really fascinating.” Can you tell me more about this?” This can take you on a whole new path. I once had a pre-interview that went on for 45 minutes. It was so exciting and informative.

Closing the preinterview

Let’s say you are wrapping up your preinterview. You should first thank them for their time. It’s essential to tell the person that the crew will be arriving on set the day after you have finished. The interviewee should be reminded that although the producer may have additional questions, the pre-interview should essentially mirror the telephone preinterview. This is especially important if they have never done a video interview. Your interviewee will feel more comfortable if you assure them that they will be discussing the same topics but with another person. The taped interview will be more enjoyable if they feel comfortable. You want them to enjoy it.

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Here’s a warning. Sometimes, busy professionals prefer that you email the questions to them, and they respond. This is not a good idea for video pre-interviews. It is crucial to conduct a telephone interview. Why? It helps you to get a feel for the person and their likely response/action when the crew arrives. Sometimes, you have to gently explain to them that you need to speak with them.

It was written for the video crew.

This brings me to the final step: creating the background, q-line, and focus document for the video producer.

This prep document is the most important for the video team’s focus statement. Let me explain what “focus statement” means to you. Let’s assume that the scenario I just mentioned is the one for top-interviewing top performers being honored. The main statement is simple: John Doe will be recognized at the annual conference because of his $3 million in business revenue last year.

These questions can range from “Why did you become an advisor?” to “What are you doing now?” To be a financial advisor, one must have the following qualities: “; “This is the fourth consecutive year you have done this type of thing, and you are being recognized for that-how does it make you feel?” Or “What is your secret to achieving these record volumes each year?”. ”

Your prep document’s first question is the most important. Here is an example of how to create the interview document for the video team.

FOCUS: John Doe will be recognized at the annual conference for his $3 million in business sales last year.
Q. Q.
Et cetera.

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Interviews should last between 5-10 minutes. A list of 12-15 questions is a good idea.

The important background

After you have completed the focus and questions list, it is time to complete the “backgrounder” section. This section is crucial because it allows the video producer to know how to answer questions and the person as a whole. Your backgrounders should be thorough. Your video team will be more prepared if they are more thorough. This assumes that you made detailed notes during the pre-interview. You’ll need to spend more time transcribing if you taped the conversation.

Backgrounder should not only include basic information about the person (how many years they have been doing this job, etc.). Not only should it include the basics of the person (how long they’ve been doing what they do), but also how they acted on the phone (nervousness, etc., how they responded to specific questions. This is why it’s essential to listen to the person while you do the telephone interview. You can then take notes in the backgrounder document.

Tapes can be a great source of information.

You can then email the document to the video producer, and your team is set. If they do their job well, they will get a great interview recorded. After every interview, I received a series of emails from my producer: “I love,”…” “I love even more,….”

I did exactly what I was taught to do. They came away with better advisor interviews on tape than they had previously achieved by simply showing up and firing off the hip. Pre-interviews are a great way to get great material on tape. These interviews will help you tell a brand story that will resonate with and engage your audience.



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