There's a lot to love about the return of in-person events – the networking, the travel, the break from a neverending stream of Zoom meetings. For marketers, live events have another serious upside: a chance to collect video interviews.
This fall, the Statement team headed to LA to help our longtime client Financial Health Network do just that. The nonprofit hosted its annual event, EMERGE Financial Health, for the first time in three years, bringing together hundreds of its clients, Members, sponsors, staff, and other industry movers and shakers. We spent three solid days interviewing attendees alongside the amazing video production team Habit of Seeing, producing hours of footage that will power the Financial Health Network's content marketing for months to come.
While not every brand hosts a large event like this, the good news is there are plenty of other opportunities to mine for content gold through interviews. Think about your next company retreat, on-site funder visit, or even an industry conference you're attending. Conducting a few video interviews while you're there can give you a bank of evergreen content to slice and dice for social testimonials, brand videos, educational Q&As, and more.
The process of planning, interviewing and producing the final content takes a certain set of skills, but your investment can pay off big time when executed right. Channel your inner reporter with a few tips of the trade from our resident interview expert and former journalist, Lis Martin!
1. Plan around your audience.
Let your interviewees lead the type of content you gather. For example, the Financial Health Network focused on short person-on-the-street interviews of attendees for day-of social and future event marketing, as well as staff interviews for brand and recruiting purposes. If you plan to interview multiple people (which you should if you can!), make sure your list of subjects is balanced across age, gender, race, and professional backgrounds. Identifying people you expect to have great energy on camera can also help elevate your footage, although there are ways to coax more camera-shy people out of their shells, too (more on that below!).
2. Craft the right questions.
The best questions are open-ended and SHORT. Keep in mind that your interviewees will be responding on the fly, so asking clear and concise questions is key. Try starting with easier questions to build their confidence first (i.e., "What do you do at your organization?"), and then segue into meatier topics. Giving specific direction can also prompt strong sound bites. For example, one of the things we asked EMERGE attendees was, "How would you describe EMERGE Financial Health in one sentence?"
3. Get your gear and team in order.
It's tough to juggle a camera, ask questions and take notes all at once, so divide and conquer if you can. At EMERGE, our Senior Project Manager Cait Weisensee collected contact info from interviewees and worked the crowd to find new subjects, freeing Lis up to lead the interviews. During the conversations, Cait stood by for Lis' hand signal for a great quote and jotted down notes that were later populated into a spreadsheet, saving time during the editing process. While we also had an all-star two-person production team at our side, not everyone has that luxury. If you need to go the DIY route, invest in a few quality tools like a camera phone that shoots cinema-quality 4K video, a lightweight tripod to stabilize your camera, and a couple of clip-on or wireless microphones to capture crisp audio.
4. Set up a welcoming environment.
Lighting and sound are the most important fundamentals of good video. Scout out a location ahead of time with good natural light or suitable conditions for filming. When framing your shot, favor simple backgrounds over visually distracting elements. Standing in front of a camera can be intimidating, so take the time for small talk to put them at ease before launching into questions. When setting up the shot, the Habit of Seeing team got interviewees to crack a smile by asking a "test question," like "What did you have for breakfast?" (An unsettling number of people said "Nothing!") Once you get into the interview, be open to going off-script based on the responses you get. If your subject is extra enthusiastic about a certain topic, asking follow-up questions can help you tap into an unexpected yet valuable angle.
Ask them to repeat after you or repeat their answer.
Have a script, but be willing to freestyle. Keep your questions brief and open ended — they allow you to find more than you anticipate. Your interviewee may bring up a point that you can spin into another content angle for future use. Be on alert for great quotes. Direct quotes establish credibility and add personality to written word.
5. Imperfections are OK (really!).
Part of the reason video content is so powerful is because it's authentic. The unique voices and perspectives of your subjects bring personality and credibility to your content in a way the written word can't on its own. If your interviewee gives a meandering or incomplete answer, ask them to repeat their answer or to repeat after you (i.e., complete the sentence, "EMERGE Financial Health is..."), but don't sweat the "ums" and "ahs." Editing tools and creative professionals can take the highlights and spin them up into nicely formed channel-optimized content.
At EMERGE, we conducted dozens of video interviews, which were then spun into day-of event recaps which you can view below (shout-out to Habit of Seeing for their incredible work). We're now planning to shape these striking quotes and proof points into upcoming event and employee recruitment campaigns – bringing extra dimension and personality to the Financial Health Network's marketing throughout 2023.
Stay tuned for a showcase of our branding work at EMERGE Financial Health in L.A.!
Need help incorporating interviews into your content marketing?
Statement would love to strategize with you! Reach out to request a free consultation.