Some time ago I volunteered to organize an ezine for one of my alumni groups. I was the only group member who’s edited newsletters and I know how powerfully they can build loyalty and motivate membership.
Immediately I ran into the biggest challenge of editing a newsletter. It’s not coming up with ideas. Not meeting deadlines. Not writing up the stories. Not even layout and design.
No, the biggest challenge is getting ordinary members to say “yes” to an interview.
When I edited a newsletter for my gym in New Mexico, I featured a “Member of the Month.”
When I edited a 700-member professional newsletter, I created a monthly interview column.
Now, because everyone’s into networking, I’d like to have a “Spotlight.”
You’d be amazed how often I hear (from both men and women, so don’t go saying it’s a girl thing), “I’m not interesting enough.” Or, “I don’t have anything to say.” Or even, “I’m shy.”
“No problem,” I say. “It’s my job to make you sound interesting. And I’m not Barbara Walters (or even Katie Couric). I ask easy questions. You can even suggest the topics.”
But why not step into the spotlight? We’re playing a low-stakes game. Practice talking about yourself. You’ll be ready when your next employer demands an interview for the company newsletter. You’ll understand what you need to learn before a Real Reporter shows up.
Occasionally your employer will demand that you get clearance for an interview – even a newsletter at the gym or alumni club. I’d go ahead and ask. Unauthorized media contacts can be hazardous to your career. But your employer may be delighted if you’re being interviewed by anybody, even a neighborhood newspaper.
If your manager says, “No way,” ask if you can be interviewed without mentioning specifics. Unless you work for the CIA or Tony Soprano’s Family, or you’re posing for high-exposure photos, most employers won’t mind if you say, “I work for…”
Then offer an interview-lite. Talk about your life accomplishments: education, community, military or Peace Corps service, travel, family and dogs.
One never knows. Sometimes an old high school buddy will see your interview and call to get re-acquainted. Or someone will give you unexpected access to a networking opportunity.
If you work for yourself, you have no excuse to say no, unless you’re selling the benefits of being invisible. The whole world needs to know how wonderful you are.
And I recommend that, starting today, you make a solemn vow to yourself. You will never, ever say, “My life is so boring – why would you talk to me?” You will never, ever make excuses (“You probably don’t want to hear this but…”)
Writers are busy, whether they’re columnists for the New York Times or freelance newsletter editors. When they ask for an interview, they want to believe you’re brilliant, successful, interesting and well-spoken.
Don’t tell them they’re wrong.