Learning patterns/How to conduct interviews with your project partners
What problem does this solve?
Many volunteers and movement organizations are facing the challenge of how to capture the impact of their work and ways to share it with the wider movement and the general public. Especially the more qualitative aspects of our work that can't be measured in sheer numbers. Building relationships with (external) partners and organizations is such an activity. Interviewing them gives you the opportunity to collect stories to communicate your work to third parties and might also help you to understand your partners even better and to find ways to improve your cooperation in future.
What is the solution?
Every partnership is unique and dependent on the people involved as well the local context. Interviewing your partners and publishing the results in your reports, websites and blogs is a possible way to tell your story from a different perspective and to demonstrate what makes the cooperation special and important to you. It is also a sign of appreciation, as your partners can see that their view is valued.
Things to consider
- Find the right interview partner
- Having concrete projects or even results makes the story more interesting, longstanding partners have probably more to share than very new ones
- Try to get an authentic story from someone who has first hand experience with you and not a streamlined story from the communication department
- Design the story and questions for your interview
- Start the interview with a little introduction to your project / cooperation. Pick out an interesting detail, fun fact or metaphor as an unconventional conversation starter in order to capture the interest and attention of your reader. Avoid predictable, lenghty or boring opening questions.
- When designing your questions, try to not only focus on a factual report of events and experiences but also on the personal view of your interview partner and the more emotional side that makes the project or cooperation special.
- Decide on the communication channel for the interview
- Written interviews are usually more focused and close to a format that can be published. However, it is less interactive and flexible, there is little opportunity to build on and elborate on new aspects that come up during the conversation.
- Personal or telephone/ video conference interviews are more interactive and can lead to unexpected results and new insights. However, the answer tend to be more lenghty and complex and might need more editing / refining before they become readable.
- Supplement your story with pictures or other visual information
- Your interview partner gives his or her organization a face, so a picture of the person (portrait or action shot) should be the very least to supplement the interview
- Add graphs, videos, pictures or other examples that best illustrate your work and the content of the interview
- Some partners might appreciate to have the opportunity to place their logo next to the text
- Publish your story on various communication channels
- The work and effort you put in your interview can be used for various communication purposes: e.g. reports to the WMF, printed annual reports, blogs and websites of you or your partner organization
- Snippets and informative quotes from the interview can be used for social media or as visual elements / teasers for your website, report or other information material
When to use
Wikimedia Austria used this format to enrich its 2014 FDC impact report.