What should I say?
How should I say it?
No matter how creative or strategic you are, at a certain point you’ve been stuck. No matter how many times you start to write you hit a wall.
It isn’t just that you’ve said it before—because actually repetition supports a strong brand message. It’s that you’re not sure how to speak to your audience about the topic at hand in a compelling way.
Gathering others’ perspectives on a topic, ideally, should come before you begin to even set a direction for your material, product, or campaign. This process is part of the discovery phase of strategic communications.
Sometimes referred to as in-depth discussions, stakeholder interviews are a structured way for you to explore how others feel, talk, and associate with your organization and/or program.
Notice I said structured? That’s because this is different than calling up your program manager and asking her what she thinks about your current website.
Instead, you’ll want to make a list of at least five stakeholders to participate and ask the same set of questions with each of them. This will help you theme all of your data after the interviews, more easily allowing you to pull common takeaways and insights that you can craft your message around.
A GUIDED CONVERSATION
Setting a structured interview guide might seem counter intuitive to having an open, honest conversation. But actually, it helps others feel like the conversation is focused even if they do go more in depth on a question or two. There’s always the ability to come back to the topic at hand.
Having an interview guide is also critically important to setting and sticking to roles. Your role as the interviewer is to set the context, ask questions, and listen. It’s not the time to share your opinions or perspectives.
Try to keep your conversations to 30-40 minutes, max. You may not get to all of your questions. Plan for that by ordering questions or marking the “must-ask” questions in advance with an asterisk.
QUESTIONS TO ASK
I've put together a list of questions to get you started. Of course you'll want to add any that are specific to your objectives, but aim for a list that is this length, give or take.
Did you use this guide to prep for a stakeholder conversation? Let me know how it went!