Tag Archives: podcasting

Alec Baldwin’s “Here’s the Thing” Full of Interviewer Tips

Alec Baldwin’s podcast, “Here’s the Thing,” is one of the best interview series out there.  I’m just fascinated with the guy who provides a blueprint of a well-done interview and here’s why.

1.  He comes to the studio absolutely prepared for the guest.  If it’s a show business colleague, he probably knows the person but still has done his research on the guest’s work.  Often, as in the case of Dick Cavett, he says, “I’ve seen all your shows,” and then references several.  Because of that, they have a good talk about Sir Lawrence Olivier, an extended chat about  Marlon Brando with insights you’d get nowhere else.

2.  He relates to the guest.  Again, with Dick Cavett, they talk about working while enduring emotional issues and then talk about Cavett’s  period of depression.

3. Baldwin is honest.  When talking with Jerry Seinfeld, he asks, with mild disbelief,  “You’ve never been short with a person?   Seinfeld says no, never, and Baldwin says with naked winsomeness, “I wish I could say the same thing.”  It’s a reference to his famous temper but the comment is real and heartfelt, and we have brief glimpse into his own life and regrets.

4.  He’s funny.  He interviews novelist Erica Jong and her writer daughter.  The two are close but have different views of life and are headstrong.  In one segment when they begin arguing about feminist issues, Badwin breaks in at the perfect moment shouting “We’re going to a commercial break brought to you by Victoria’s Secret!”

5.  He’s passionate.  At times, he wants to know something so badly he talks over the guest and drives in his question, forcing the guest to new and often uncharted territory.  He does this several times with Julie Andrews, who at times reveals her devotion to her family, her vaudeville roots, her rebellion against her Mary Poppins image, and, at times, her polite insistence on finishing her thought.

6.  He’s modest.  At different times guests will refer to Baldwin’s acting skills.  Baldwin brushes them aside with a polite thank you and returns to his  questions.  He’s not there for himself .  He’s focused on the guest.

7.  In every interview he seems to get to a core truth of the artist.    Musician Herb Alpert says at one point, “There’s something about being an artist. . . . When you’re doing it you’re in the exact moment of your life.”

8.  He’s passionate about getting to the root of the person’s ambition.  In his interviews with  Brian Williams ( March 4, 2013) , they talk about Williams’  early years, his drive, living in poverty and eating Spam sandwiches.  But he also gets to the person’s true loves, as well.  Williams spends more time talking about his wife and raving about his daughter than he does interviewing several presidents.

This interview is  fascinating  in retrospect because Williams does reference his “experience” in being in a Chinook helicopter that was hit by two rockets and small arms fire in Iraq in 2003,  which has gotten him into trouble, but throughout the interview he comes across as a down-to-earth, hard working professional devoted to his profession and his craft.   You can’t dismiss his sincerity and humility.

9. Baldwin uses whatever he can to show that he can relate to the interviewee.  In some cases, it’s similar childhoods, sometimes raising a daughter.  With Billy Joel they compare their respective high profile divorces from beautiful women.

In all the interviews Baldwin  is knowledgeable, passionate, and in pursuit of what makes the artist, journalist, writer, policy maker, tick.

He’s always after what makes that person that person.

10. What really cemented my respect was Baldwin’s interview with  policing experts Joe Eterno and David Kennedy.  Baldwin’s knowledge and passion are present but he rightly steps back and  lets the men talk.  They are two of the best interviews I’ve ever heard on the subject of 21st century policing, human rights, the Constitution and the relationship of police and community.

Baldwin  combines  research,  talent, curiosity and passion. Each show  is  lively, honest, entertaining and bursting with revelations and insights — about the interviewee and occasionally the interviewer.

I’d love to interview him sometime about his technique.

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Pinterest: Evolution Means You’re Not In Control

We in the marketing business are shameless users, snatching  the latest social media hit which always starts out as a fun, sharing platform among students, hobbyists, musicians, grandparents.

As soon as we see it grab traction, we jump on the machine  to see if we can steer it toward our purposes.

But in the beginning, we never have control of the steering wheel or the direction.

Pinterest is the latest platform exploding onto the scene.  Its mission is  to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.”

Wikipedia also reports that for “January 2012 comScore reported the site had 11.7 million unique U.S. visitors, making it the fastest site ever to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark.”
Recently there was an interesting CUPRAP thread (CUPRAP is the world’s best organization for PR and marketing folks.)
There were many questions.  Who uses Pinterest?  What is the ROI?  Who is the  target audience?
It’s too early to ask these questions.   We’re in new territory.  Study it, play with it and experiment.
Seven years and a universe ago,  MU gained international attention for its use of podcasting. Now it’s not in the news but tens of millions of people listen to podcasts. Facebook was a college game and evolved into a $100 billion business.
Is Pinterest headed in the same direction?  My guess is yes.
Remember, we, the marketers are the intruders. Pinterest started as a site where people (mainly women) shared recipes, patterns, quilts.
It grew quickly  into much more and now we’re trying to make it work for us.
Don’t try to control it. You can’t. Social media evolves itself. Don’t ask right now what your target audience is. The target audience finds you if you do it right. Don’t ask what the ROI is. The target audience delivers it if you do it right.
How do you do it right?  You experiment.

As Mike Moran says Do It Wrong, Quickly.

We’re exploring Pinterest  at Mansfield and I’m experimenting with it personally.  UW Tacoma has a good site with variety and a sense of play, and other schools are fast joining the party.

Forget the “suit” questions right now.

Have fun and make sure your boards — interesting and substantive —  are there when your audience comes searching for  for you.

Excellent Interviewing — Just Ask

I’ve never liked to rely on a formal list of questions for electronic interviews.  When you have a big list of questions, you’re attention is always on the next question and when you can ask it.

The subject picks up on this  quickly and the interview becomes a little flatter.

I usually form a list of a few questions and use them for reference.  What is more effective –for me, at least– is to ask the first question and then engage in a conversation. Let it go in whatever direction it needs to.  If the guest is passionate about his or her subject, it will be interesting.

As an interviewer you have to be interested and help maintain the conversation.  Here’s an excerpt of a discussion with a guy who rescues handicapped canines.

“How did you begin collecting three-legged dogs?”

“Well, I saw this French poodle in the shelter and knew that no one else would want her.  When she looked up at me we bonded.  It was love.  I brought her home.”

“And this became a passion?”

“There are a lot of three-legged dogs in the world.   Within a couple years I acquired several.”

“Different breeds?”

“Mm hmm. A German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, pit bull and a Daschsund.”

How do they adapt to three legs?

“The Daschsund has the hardest time because he’s so long and low to the ground.  Sometimes he just rolls.  The pit bull just looks at you like, ‘Come on!  I might be missing a leg but I still got a good set of choppers!’

“What the greatest reward for you?”

“Knowing they have a good home and I guess, you know, being a two-legged pack leader of three-legged dogs.  We all feel special.”

Just be interested and ask questions as they come to you.  Chances are your audience would ask the same questions.

If I do have certain points I need to ask, I make sure the subject has completely finished with his or her answer.  I take a moment and look at the question then look back at the subject and ask the question in my own voice.  Never sound like you’re reading the question.

When you ask the question in your voice, looking at the subject, he or she will react in turn with an answer that’s honest and real and sounds it.  It’s a conversation.

I never worry about pauses, flubs or stutters.  Everything is cleaned up and edited.  The saying “garbage in, garbage out” applies to interviews.

Be interested and engaged you’ll wind up with a good interview (conversation) nearly every time.

Sunday Afternoon Thoughts Part 16

In my last post, guest Dick Jones wrote about the demise of newspapers, happening in part because they refuse to let go of their double digit profits. Ad Age has begun a series entitled Newspaper Death Watch. The first installment mentions many of the same problems Dick did. I’ll be following this series and provide a link to each installment. Intriguing stuff.

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Related to the death of newspapers and the huge transition we’re experiencing in news gathering- dissemination (and PR and marketing) is Chris Brogan’s post on Some Differences Between Pitching Mainstream Press and Bloggers. There are some marked differences and, of course, a lot of similarities.

Most revealing are the responses when Chris Twittered his friends for their opinions. Read this in full and think about it. There’s a lot about passion, opinions, homework, freebies . . .oh, yes, and pimping.

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Martin Weller is a Professor of Educational Technology at the Open University in the UK. I’ve subscribed to his blog, The Ed Techie for quite awhile but, like everyone else, I don’t get to all my feeds as often as I’d like.

In the virtual world this April 7 post, Whither the Blogosphere, might be considered old, but it’s relevant, well-written and thoughtful. It’s about the possible trend of bloggers moving away from the blogosphere and into different forms of communication on the Web. Martin writes in part:

What I think is happening is another example of technology succession. The blog was the primary colonizer for the barren landscape of online identity. The presence of this colonizer changed the environment, which made it more amenable to secondary colonizers. . .

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I found this interesting entry on The Ed Techie’s recent post, Making Connections 2.0

Blogger Tony Hirst was criticized harshly at a conference for having his laptop to do some live blogging. Both his account and the comments give some great insights into the schism between traditionalists and 2.0 practitioners.

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John C. Dvorak, VP at the former Podshow, explains the name change to Mevio. His post is short and to the point. The 68 responses range from agreement, to anger to thoughts on the term “podcasting,” branding, search engines, etc. Again, interesting insights into our fast-changing times.

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Finally, I need your insights and ideas.

Three weeks ago I did the three-part post on the drug bust. A week later I followed it up with a report on another one. As I posted them, each one attracted a larger-than-usual number of views. They continued to get a steady but lower number of views, which is the norm. Then, Friday night, views of these posts suddenly jumped way, way up. The views continued growing throughout Saturday, giving me one of my top five days ever. Has this ever happened to anyone else?

Any ideas as to why this seemingly untimely explosion of interest?