Internship Insider: Interview pros like a pro (Part II)
I began interviewing pro players and coaches nearly 10 years ago with no experience or journalism background whatsoever. Here’s another batch of what I learned from my mistakes, successes and observing others. Read Part I here.
6. When in doubt, ask.
Whether it’s your first interview or just your first trip to a new venue, there are going to be unknowns. Whether I’m interviewing via phone, locker room, press conference, etc., I have yet to find a PR staff that has a problem with helping media follow the rules. Assuming is what brings you trouble.
7. Keep the PR people happy.
You don’t have to coddle anyone for doing their job, but saying “thank you” every now and again goes a long way towards keeping your team/player contacts in your corner. Everyone’s job is a lot easier that way.
8. Think three steps ahead.
Once you’ve had your protocol questions answered, proceed with a humble confidence. Know what you’re going to ask ahead of time, anticipate responses and be prepared with your own. Be natural. You don’t have to pre-script everything, and be prepared to change your approach on the fly.
9. Observe. Then report.
If in a locker room or a press conference, take the “fly on the wall” approach for a few minutes. Silent observation never singles you out, but can be invaluable. You get a feel for who’s ready to talk, how things work with that organization and where fellow reporters are succeeding or striking out.
10. Act like you’ve been there before.
Any good sportswriter better still have the fan alive inside. At the same time, you are NEVER interviewing as a fan. In 2007 I spent 20 minutes in the road office with then-Dallas Mavericks head coach Avery Johnson. We informally talked about David Robinson and their careers together on those ’90s San Antonio Spurs squads I grew up idolizing. I did let him know my affinity for those teams, but didn’t break character, ask for pictures, autographs, etc. It was one of my favorite press experiences ever.
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Thanks to B/R Blog reader and Bleacher Report writer Ken Kraetzer for inspiring this list!
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Remember that users are prohibited from seeking out interviews on their own if using B/R’s name/platform as leverage. All “official” interview opportunities using the B/R name should come directly from B/R staff.
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Joel C. Cordes is Bleacher Report’s Sportswriting Internship Program Feedback Editor. Along with fellow editor Greg Pearl, he develops B/R interns by providing feedback and mentoring, the highlights of which are shared with the B/R Blog.