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Scoop! What it takes to attract big-name stories


And our top tips for getting the most from interviews with high-profile professionals

When former MP Sarah Newton was appointed head of the Health and Safety Executive in November 2020, she only gave one business publication interview – to IOSH magazine. A real coup and testimony to the standing that the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s membership title has gained rapidly within the sector.

Redactive has an enviable reputation for securing exclusive interviews across its extensive portfolio. From broadcaster and wildlife warrior Chris Packham for IEMA’s TRANSFORM to Professor Barbara Bain, the world’s most famous living morphologist, in The Biomedical Scientist for the Institute of Biomedical Science.

More recently the spring 2021 issue of S&PA Professional landed an interview with Paralympic cyclist Dame Sarah Storey to the delight of CIMSPA (Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity) members. While the March/April 2021 issue of Recruiter quizzed Steve Ingram, CEO of global recruitment company the Page Group.

But securing a date in the diary with such in-demand subjects is one thing. To find out what it takes to get the most from every second of your hard-won interview slot, we asked three Redactive editorial pros for their top tips: 

Graham Newton, editor of Airlines. for IATA (International Air Transport Association)

Never assume you know what the interviewee will say even if they have been interviewed many times before. Approaching an interview with a fresh perspective can inspire original responses.
Read Graham’s recent interviews with Willie Walsh, former Chairman of IAG and now Director General of IATA and Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa.

Aviva Attias, editor of Community Practitioner for Unite-CPHVA (Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association)

Ensure you make it clear to the interviewee why having their voice heard by the publication’s audience would be of benefit to them/their cause. And I always like to include something that readers would be surprised to know about the interviewee.
In 2018 Community Practitioner interviewed co-founder of The Big Issue empire John Bird, who shared his views on the way to lift people out of poverty and fight social injustice.

Simon Wicks, deputy editor of The Planner for RTPI (Royal Town Planning Institute)

Look for something to talk about that will help the interviewee relax and get them talking more freely. Getting people to talk about a hobby; asking them where they went on holiday; pointing out a picture in the background in a Zoom interview – these can all act as icebreakers. Often it’s to do with common ground or experiences. I’ve found myself talking about cycling through the Alps, birdwatching, great punk gigs in small venues, abstract painting and a mutual love of Scottish islands before now. It doesn’t always work, of course, but the person behind the mask can often be far more interesting than the professional (and it gives a bit of colour to your piece, too). 

I always end an interview with “Is there anything I’ve missed that’s important?” or “Is there anything else you’d like to add?” You can get some really good material from this question, and it can tell you what’s important to your interviewee too.
Read The Planner quizzing housing and planning minister Christopher Pincher about his plans for a shorter and smoother planning process in the future.

Other recommended reads from Redactive client titles include:

  • Journalist, presenter and comedian Alex Brooker championing the cause of disabled people in finding employment – in a typically light-hearted way – for First Voice, the membership magazine of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
  • Former Swedish premier Göran Persson discussing the country’s response to the Nineties’ fiscal crisis in Public Finance magazine for the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.
  • Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson sharing her views on sporting legacy in S&PA Professional for CIMSPA.

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