3 reasons media email interviews stink

pink emailWhen a reporter or blogger is looking for a source, it’s important to recognize there are significant disadvantages to participating in an email interview and not a typical phone interview.

Are email interviews the lazy person’s way to get information? Many media requests listed on HARO (Help a Reporter Out) stipulate interviews will be conducted via e-mail.

It seems a growing number of people skip the human element of exchanging pleasantries and instead hide behind their keyboards. For me, it’s simple. I prefer to talk rather than type. You?

Sure,  in our busy worlds, there’s a certain convenience to receiving information electronically. But e-mail interviews lack a critical communication dynamic that’s present when a reporter takes the time to speak with a source.

Without dialogue, the art of give-and-take doesn’t exist at a deep level.

Nudging our curiosity

We must also recognize the role that our natural curiosity plays in the interview process. Even if 10 rounds of e-mails are traded, the content will never match that of a human conversation.

The reason?  E-mail deprives a reporter or blogger the opportunity to spark their own curiosity and possibly uncover new insights and content. Nudging our curiosity is essential in developing content and learning new things. Curiosity and education go hand-in-hand.

E-mail interviews detract from the fundamental news-gathering process because they:

Lack the human exchange and conversation that gives life to interviews.  I have interviewed thousands of people, from homeless individuals to presidents. Each was conducted in-person or on the telephone. And each response within a conversation typically sparked a follow-up question or slight tangent that I, as a trained journalist and news reporter, could never have anticipated. This is why scripted Q&A doesn’t compare with live interviews. E-mail misses our communication nuances, speech patterns, and vocal vitality. These live exchanges—fueled by a natural curiosity—improved the quality of information I had been gathering that simply cannot exist in an e-mail interview.

Fail to capture the essence of the source that’s being interviewed. Based on the perspectives I have shared above, we now turn to the actual writing of the story. When a reporter or blogger is finished gathering material and is ready to sit down and write, I wonder if they can truly capture the essence of a story in the same way a counterpart could who spoke with a source.   Yes, any reporter can miss the mark and fail to truly “get” the story. But why increase the odds?

Keep people from using their communication skills. Typing responses to a series of questions limits our verbal communication and rapport building skills. We have all sent and received electronic messages that were misconstrued in some way.  In phone interviews, tone of voice, rhythm, pacing, pauses, and enthusiasm help reporters grasp a story and the person behind it. Human to human.  Some reporters even prefer to Skype with sources, as the visual adds an additional layer of valuable communication.  Skype and in-person interviews allow the reporter or blogger to observe a source’s body language, which is a significant factor in our verbal and nonverbal communication.

Do you agree or have an experience to share? Your comments are welcome.

PS: Is your business ‘the best kept secret?’  It’s time to let the cat out of the bag! Hundreds of tips and ideas for pitching news stories and working with the media are in my new Kindle book, The Badass Book of Social Media and Business Communication. Order now!


  1. I am really loving the theme/design of your website. Do you ever run into any browser compatibility problems? A few of my blog readers have complained about my website not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Firefox. Do you have any suggestions to help fix this problem?

  2. Wow! This could be one particular of the most useful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Excellent. I’m also a specialist in this topic therefore I can understand your hard work.

  3. Hi! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My web site looks weird when browsing from my iphone4. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to correct this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share. Cheers!

  4. I in addition to my pals were reviewing the nice techniques located on your website and then before long I got a terrible suspicion I never thanked the website owner for those strategies. My young men were definitely as a consequence warmed to read them and have in effect definitely been taking advantage of those things. Thanks for indeed being so accommodating as well as for using these kinds of fantastic ideas most people are really desperate to be informed on. Our own honest regret for not expressing appreciation to earlier.

  5. Someone necessarily help to make severely articles I would state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now? I amazed with the analysis you made to create this actual put up incredible. Excellent job!

  6. This design is wicked! You definitely know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  7. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely comeback.

  8. I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts on this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site. Reading this info So i am happy to convey that I’ve a very good uncanny feeling I discovered just what I needed. I most certainly will make sure to do not forget this web site and give it a glance regularly.

  9. What i do not realize is in truth how you’re no longer actually a lot more neatly-liked than you might be now. You’re so intelligent. You realize therefore significantly in terms of this subject, produced me in my view consider it from numerous numerous angles. Its like women and men aren’t fascinated until it is one thing to do with Lady gaga! Your individual stuffs excellent. At all times take care of it up!

  10. I have learned newer and more effective things from your blog post. Yet another thing to I have noticed is that in many instances, FSBO sellers can reject an individual. Remember, they’d prefer never to use your companies. But if anyone maintain a comfortable, professional partnership, offering support and remaining in contact for four to five weeks, you will usually be able to win interviews. From there, a listing follows. Thanks


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here