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Posts Tagged ‘health care’

eat the mic. eat it!

Getting good copy often means getting a good interview, which takes a bit of skill. I became a pretty decent interviewer out of necessity. In the olden times, we jetted about the country doing product testimonial videos in hospitals far and wide. We corporate video dudes would tend to our 300lbs of gear, and leave the interviewing duties to the marketing managers.  Thinking it was one more headache we didn’t need, we got three other headaches instead.

First of all, I think marketers can be too close to their products. By the time we reach testimonial video stage, this new device is all that the marketer has lived and breathed for two or three years.  Their perspective is skewed, and it affects the types of questions they ask. For example, I’m sure it was a high-five moment when the design team picked the capacitor that made the bed motor 1% more efficient, but don’t expect the lady from Housekeeping to give a damn about it.

This brings up one of the basic rules I have learned: ask people what they know and/or care about. Don’t ask the VP of Finance how easy it is to clean under the mattress, and don’t ask the $8-an-hour medical assistant about macro trends in the health care industry. No, I’m not making up these examples.

And how about a little interviewing skill, folks? An Ivy-league MBA  does not guarantee interviewing ability. From what I have seen, it’s pretty much the opposite.  Example:

VP of Nursing: “Here at Sisters of Mercy, there are three critical elements to our patient safety initiative.”

Interviewer: “Super. Next question…”

Me (whispering): “Uhh, dude, don’t you want to know what the elements are?”

Interviewer: “Oh great, now I’ve lost my place!”

Another mistake is heading out on the road without a clear idea of the story you are trying to tell. By the time it magically crystallizes in your head, you’re on your fifth city. You realize that each of your 40-minute interviews could have been about 20 minutes if you had properly focused. You also realize that you could have made those 1:30 flights, instead of the 5:15’s.  The 1:30 flight, by the way, is the Gold Standard of interviewing success!

Anyway, after about a dozen or so of these adventures, we finally kicked the marketing manager to the curb (or ditched him at baggage claim, I don’t recall.)  Logistically, things got easier almost immediately.  Eventually, the interviews got better as well. Today, I can honestly say that I am a darn good interviewer, either for video, web or print. I’ve even been known to ask a follow-up question or two!

 

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wiki

“No better friend, no greater adversary…”

Expertise..acquiring it fast and cheap. As we used to say at ImageMatrix: “It CAN be Done!”

As famed guitarist and alcoholic Joe Walsh once said, I can’t complain but sometimes I still do. From time to time you may detect a note (or perhaps a symphony) of cynicism in my tone but, truth be told, there are parts of my job I truly love.

This will sound lame, but my favorite part is learning new things. (Note: warning the reader that something will sound lame does not make it less lame.) By this I mean new businesses, new fields, new products and so on. I have spent a few really productive years in an agency environment, both full time and as a freelancer. There I was exposed to a barrage of new clients in various fields, from shooting sports to military research to graphic arts to public radio.

Believe me, after a solid decade plus in healthcare communications, it was a definite paradigm shift (corporate douche-speak? Mike, you promised!) Sorry. Anyway, I loved the challenge of digging into the materials, interviewing the client, learning about their company, their competition and their industry at large.  And I loved being the proverbial fresh pair of eyes in the room. I guess the biggest lesson I learned was…how to learn. (Tonight on a very special Lively Exchange, Mike learns how to learn.)

All of these tender life lessons came in handy yesterday, when I had to dig into yet another field I knew nothing about (and cannot really discuss.) My mission was to turn 5,000 words into 5,000 different words, with another 2,500 words added for sheer volume.  I’d have to check the AP style guide, but I’m pretty sure that’s “a butt-load.” It promised to be a steep climb, but I was really looking forward to it precisely because the topic was so new. I was exhausted by the end of the day but, as they say, it was a good kind of tired.

How about you, my fellow ink-stained wretches? What’s your favorite part of the job?

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