Stakeholder engagement is an important information-gathering tactic in the development of branding and marketing strategies. We’re seeking trends, keywords, design direction, identification of obstacles and opportunities, or just broad opinions. And we only get one chance to get all we need from them, so a focused effort is key:
Have prepared questions. Even Barbara Walters had a list of top points to pursue before she interviewed someone. If you go into an interview with nothing, you’ll likely get nothing out of it.
Do your research. You need to know who you are interviewing in order ask the right questions and put their answers in context. Ask your client for short bios, or jump on Google.
Be friendly. Use a sharp tone, stone face or clipped voice and your respondent will clam up. You’ll get back what you give, along with responses that likely aren’t fulsome or thoughtful.
Be quiet. Don’t finish sentences, interrupt, or give your opinion. If a respondent is struggling, you can qualify, give an example, or offer encouragement, but otherwise, shhh.
Be respectful. You are asking individuals to give up valuable personal or premium work time to speak with you. Communicate the expected length of the interview and stick to it. And be appreciative. If you can adhere to points 1-4, you’re well on your way…
Follow-up. Indicate how an individual’s valuable insights will be used and when, or if they will be receiving some sort of direct follow-up like a report or action memo.
Thank you. When possible, mail a hand-written thank you note. It takes no time, and is a friendly and professional touch.