August 19, 2019

How to use the Interview Era to grow your personal brand

The Interview Era.

We live in a world of technology, social media, communication and… interviews.

Interviews are now one of the best ways in which you can communicate your knowledge, reach a receptive audience, and grow your personal brand.

This 3000+ word article will spell out exactly how you can leverage the Interview Era to grow your brand! Enjoy.

What is the Interview Era?

The interview era has come about through the incredible democratisation of the media, and the emergence of technologically driven publishing.

This essentially means that today, individuals, brands and businesses are able to interview, and be interviewed, without the need for thousands of pounds of equipment and a huge distribution arm.

The interview era means anyone can share their knowledge, ideas, values and thoughts. Yes, this can and is used negatively by some to share views that are questionable at best, but it also presents an incredible opportunity for you to show yourself as an industry expert. A genuine authority.

What I particularly love about the interview era is that you can build your personal brand no matter which side of the mic you sit, and I’ve found that interviews quickly help me see the bullshit, for what it is. Bullshit. You can see the people who really know their stuff and those that don’t.

In the interview era both brands and people have the power to grow their reach and influence, by either interviewing others, or being interviewed themselves.

How to leverage the interview era

There are three primary ways in which you can leverage the interview era. The Interviewer. The Interviewee. The Interview Facilitator. Each have a different role to play in making the most of the interview era and all the opportunities it presents. So let’s break them down.

The Interviewer

These are the people who extract the knowledge of others, in a way that helps their audience to understand a person, topic or issue better. Interviewers are –for me – the key to the interview era. A poor interviewer can make or break an interview no matter the quality of the interviewee. This is down to a number of factors.

Preparation

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. A common phrase and an accurate one in this case. An interviewer who doesn’t either know the person they are interviewing, the topic for discussion or what the audience would want from the topic will fall flat on their face.

Preparation allows you to be able to craft questions that give the best insight- go deeper or extract the biggest bits of knowledge from the interviewee. Without this prep, questions can conversations can be dull, and generic. Think about ways to change the angle or change the perspective. Use scenarios and examples to put the interviewees ideas into context.

Be aware of over-preparation though! Because that’s the other end of bad. Overly structured interviews lack flexibility. This results in a lack of depth, and lack of emphasis on the detailing and interesting areas. Over preparation also presumes that the interviewee won’t go in a tangent or answer a later question earlier in the course of the interview.

Practice

Interviewing is a skill. Not everyone has a completely natural ability. Even if you have a natural affinity for asking questions, I can guarantee that you will be able to improve. I can remember listening back to my first few podcast episodes and cringing. I thought I did an amazing job interviewing. I might have done, but with practice I have got so much better.

Getting better at interviewing doesn’t just mean better at asking questions. It means being a better listener, better crafter of questions and being better at transitioning between questions and subjects.

Remember always that the interviewee is the focus of the interview not you, but without you there is no interview.

Challenging

Challenge interviewees. Make things interesting. Test them. They’ll appreciate it because “it’s not another boring interview”, and your audience will too because you’re giving them content they cannot get elsewhere.

Obviously this isn’t always appropriate for a number of reasons including show format and the type of interview, but when you can be bold to challenge. Note the word “challenge”, not “trip-up” – You want to extract the knowledge, not shut them down. You want to give as much context to listeners as possible, but also ensure that the person your interviewing feels comfortable enough to share.

It’s a tough thing to balance, but if you can get you be challenging, but fair you will be a fantastic interviewer.

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The Interviewee

Take your time – A good interview is a marathon not a sprint. You don’t have to rush your answers. You can –and should – take your time answering questions. You don’t have to barrel into an answer, instead, if needed, consider your position. Especially if the interviewer asks a question you didn’t expect, or in a way that may be confusing.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification over the meaning of a question. Taking a few seconds to think about your answer is much better, than rushing into an answer that doesn’t actually yield the information that the interviewer is looking for, and the audience wants.

By taking your time, you relax. This means you don’t rush sentences and answers. You will sound more at ease, and will come across better. It also gives your brain an opportunity to ensure you share all the information you can.

It is most definitely easier said than done, but it’s always good to keep in mind to breathe before you answer.

 

Don’t overly sell – Selling is an important part of leveraging the interview era, but you have to think “Value First, Sell Second”. In all likelihood what you are talking about will be highly linked to your business. So, to mention your business, and your services in the context of answering a question (as long as the value is first) is OK.

Selling is a science. And the theories of social selling are well documented, and are especially important when being interviewed. This is because I have never, ever met someone who listened to, watched, or read an interview where they wanted to buy over getting value. Interviews are about value first, but give an opportunity to sell second.

 

Share all the knowledge – Seems pretty obvious right? Well it is, but sometimes in the heat and pressure of an interview we can forget that it’s not about us. As interviewers we may be the “star” of the interview, but we are at least second, if not third most important. The audience always comes first.

The four types of knowledge

Knowledge of Product

Knowledge of your product (including your services and ideas). How it works, what it’s made of and how the impact it has on the lives of the users. Show how your product is made, how it works and how important it could be to people’s lives.
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Knowledge of Market

Knowledge of the market. How it’s changing and how your thoughts, ideas fit into it. This could be an understanding of where things are going to head, and how you can adapt and pivot over time to meet these demands.
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Knowledge of Trends

Knowledge of trends. This is a shorter term look at the market. It’s about what people in the market are talking about now. It’s about the instant growth and changes in the market, this could be anything from a social media challenge or the emergence of new technology.
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Knowledge of Audience

Knowledge of your audience. Who they are and how they think. This could look at different thought-processes, cultures and ideas amongst groups in society, particularly those that are your target audience.
MORE INFO
Ben M Robets - Speaking at Socialbakers Engage Paris 2019

Therefore, your knowledge is the key. Not just in terms of saying it, but also in terms of delivery. The audience are craving your knowledge. Knowledge is power, and knowledge will help you to build your personal brand and become a recognised authority.

By sharing all your knowledge, you are empowering your audience and building your own reputation as a result.

Be open to curveballs – Yes interviewers will throw curveballs at you. And, just like if you play cricket or baseball, you can train to combat them.

Curveballs are those leftfield questions that are used to challenge you, your ideas, and your way of thinking. They are not always intentionally thrown, but you should always prepare yourself for them. How?

Get someone to ask you tough questions. Ask someone to deliberately try and make you really think about your answers. Think of it as training. Training will help make you more resilient and more prepared for future curveballs. Yes, the questions will not likely be the same, but that’s the nature of the game. In sport, you train for scenarios and make it as game specific as possible, but it will never be exactly the same.

This video by Chris Ducker gives a really short, and sweet overview of how to be an amazing podcast guest!

How to be a great podcast guest - by Chris Ducker

The Facilitator

To leverage the potential of the interview era you don’t have to be either the interviewer or the interviewee, you can be a facilitator. Unfortunately, the benefits of facilitating aren’t quite as extensive or prominent, but there are some. And that is the beauty of the interview era.

The facilitator is the person who connect interviewees with interviewers. These people – which could be you – are the people who help make interviews happen. This could be though recommendations, the sharing of your interviews, or the people who help choose the best guests for their company’s podcast.

As someone who helps connect, you get number of benefits. Firstly, a growing network of contacts, who you can deal with at a future date. Secondly, kudos. Interviewers and interviewees will be extremely thankful of a positive match-up. This is again something you can leverage later on. Thirdly, you increase your own opportunities to be interviewed in the future, or meet people you can interview.

Facilitating can be either a stepping stone, or a role in its own right, but more often than not it is the prior. But, in reality, you should never stop being a facilitator. You should always be connecting and helping, that is how you build an audience, and how you build a network capable of leveraging the interview era.

The differences between leveraging interviews as a brand or as an individual

Whether you have a stand-alone personal brand or work for a company, you can leverage the interview era. There are some differences though in how you may have to approach it.

Ben M Roberts - Marketing Training & Workshops

As part of a bigger, existing brand you will have more considerations than if you are going to use interviews purely as yourself or for a business you own. As a brand you have to consider the wider impact of your words and content. You have to make sure that your goals and views are aligned with what the business stands for, and what it represents.

If you are going to use interviews as part of your branding and marketing strategy you need to get buy-in from the organisation, and you need to make sure it links back to the goals of the organisation. Is the business looking for exposure? Backlinks? Mentions? Sales? Whatever the goals are, this should be looked at.

Modern brands are realising the fact that their people are their biggest asset and that by leveraging the personal brands of their employees, they are able to extend the potential and reach of the brand as a whole.

As an independent individual or as a business owner you have more flexibility to determine your own path. Instead of having set guidelines and rules to follow, you can create them yourself. This gives you the opportunity to build out interviews or create opportunities as you see fit. It also gives you more flexibility around topics you can speak on.

However, with this increased flexibility comes the risk of stretching yourself too thin. In this case, you need to make sure that you have a specific set of topics to discuss, this includes your story.

As your own personal brand, you have the opportunity to fully embrace the interview era, and you should.

Different types of interviews

Opinion based – Opinion interviews generally revolve around news. Opinion interviews can cover pretty much anything, and don’t necessarily have to be about your company and what you do. Obviously if you have a specialist areas of knowledge you are more likely to get to talk about changes in the market and news in that field. But, with the democratisation of the media, you can express opinions on anything, but don’t expect to just walk into a TV or radio interview because you have an opinion.

Product/Service based – Talking in and around your products and services is a popular interview type particularly on newer mediums like podcasts and live on social media. It is important to keep in mind that you do talk in and around your product and service, and not constantly about it. Remember what I said earlier about interviews not being about you? Always keep that at the front of your mind.

Case Study based – Case studies provide a powerful form of validation. It also allows you to really talk about you and your brands value. However, it is really hard to not turn it into a sales pitch. If you can find the right balance, then a case study is a great way of evidencing your value and knowledge.

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Interview mediums and locations

For many, this is the gold standard, not only of quality, but also in terms of credibility. This is because of the reach, and informative nature of the medium. OF course there are variations in the quality of each station, but it is very easy to argue that the kudos which comes from a TV interview is much higher than other platforms.

Radio is as popular as ever, and the reach is equally broad. It is a fantastic medium because it reaches people, anywhere in the world, and can be listened to during most activities from cleaning and driving to working out and even in work. Unlike many other mediums radio has a amazing way of reaching people even when they are doing something else.

This is the fastest growing of the mediums fuelling the interview era. The ease of listening and creation has created a new world of amazing shows, that previously we would not have been able to access. The variety of podcasts is immense, and the quality is mixed. Some are radio quality; others have a long way to go. Podcasts are going to keep getting better and better, and they are definitely a prime location for interviews.

YouTube is arguably one of the most professional amateur interview mediums. It’s been established for a long time now, and as camera and microphone technology continually gets better in quality and lower in price, this will only get more professional. YouTube interviews for me are a bit like the in between bit between podcasts and TV. They aren’t generally as high quality as TV, but have the variation and unrefined qualities of podcasts. Like podcasts, YouTube interviews look only set to grow for the coming years.

“Going Live” is one of the primary methods of using social media to leverage the power of the interview era. Facebook, Periscope, LinkedIn, Instagram; they are all at it. And, the tide doesn’t seem to be stopping. Live videos allow for an unprecedented level of real-time interaction within the interview setting, helping to challenge the interviewers and ensuring that the viewers are getting the information that they are looking for.

Possibly one of the least impactful in terms of real-time reaction. However, what they lack in instant power, they make up for in the long-term. The ranking potential and search ability for written content is amazing. They can still rank months, even years later. It is a big trade-off though, as if you are going to leverage the interview era, numbers are important, so the trade-off may not be right for you.

One of the oldest forms of interview types, but still one of the most impactful in terms of reaching a broad audience and maintaining credibility. The kudos of being interviewed in a notable paper (could be national, regional or industry-specific) is one that people and brands alike highly revere. In the future, the actual feature within a printed medium may become less impactful, but the association with brands associated with the printing of them will remain huge. The difference being is that the interview will appear on their website instead of in the printed press.

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Measuring
The Success
Or Failure

Media Impressions

A media impression for an interview is essentially the number of people who interacted with the interview (views, likes, comments). Although this doesn’t give you a huge amount of detailed insight, it does inform you as to the reach of your messaging and where your interviews are being better received. Impressions are basically the awareness level of interviews, informing people about your messaging, ideas and thoughts – the more people you reach, the morel likely you are to find the exact audience you need (as long as the targeting is right).

Number of interviews

A very basic measurement system, and frankly crude. It won’t give you any specifics, and shouldn’t form part of your overall metrics, but it is something worth keeping an eye on and considering, as you will need to really have a minimum number of interviews in order to make it a viable strategy in of itself.

Domain Authority & Backlinks

Domain Authority and Backlinks are very much as SEO and digital marketers way of measuring the impact of their online activities. This method of measurement looks at the quality of website that the interview is associated with, and making sure that the interview is linked back to the company in the way of a backlink (preferably a “follow” link).

Sales & Leads Tracking

Sales, leads and conversions are obviously the goals of pretty much any private organisation. Therefore, it is important to measure the impact of interviews on lead generation. You can do this through tracked links (UTM codes or short codes), or via specific landing pages where there is specific content relevant to the interview.