Thursday, January 26, 2012

When You Ask for Questions Ahead of Time

Some newsmakers and public relations practitioners routinely ask for the questions ahead of time when an interview is scheduled.


It makes the reporter think you are nervous--what other reason would you have for needing to prepare?

It makes the reporter think you have something to hide--you must want to make sure the issue you are scared to answer is not on the list.

It makes the reporter think you have no knowledge of how the rules of interviewing work, so you probably aren't going to be a good resource or a good interview at all.

Here are some ways around this dilemma:

1. Ask the reporter for the scope of the interview, the "angle" or if it would be possible to get talking points to help prepare.

2. Tell the reporter you know that she probably won't use them, but would it be OK to send a few questions ahead of time, questions that fall into the newsmaker's area of expertise?

As a reporter, I am offended when the PR people ask me for questions. I usually ignore the request the first time, and if someone brings it up again, well, it depends on the story, but I never send questions. For one reason, I don't have the time. To me, interviews are more of a conversation than a deposition.

As a talk show host, booking guests, I would tell people, "I don't have time to come up with the questions in writing. We are spontaneous. However, if you send us questions you would like us to ask, we might use some of them."

How do you handle this situation?

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