One of the things that I would love to do more of is include more interviews with purchasing professionals in PurchTips. But a historical barrier to this is that, when it comes to providing good interview material, purchasing professionals as a group generally leave a lot to be desired.
Being a career purchasing professional myself, this is difficult to say. But it’s true.
So I can either complain about the problem or I can do something about it. I’ll do the latter by introducing a few guidelines to media interviews here. So, if you’re asked to do an interview with a trade publication, newspaper, purchasing blog, or even me, I recommend reading these guidelines first.
1. Understand Your Organization’s Rules. Most organizations will want to review, edit, and approve any interview before it is published. And some organizations want you to get permission from a corporate communications group before you even agree to participate in an article. Know what the rules are and communicate them to your media contact as early as possible.
2. Know The Timeline. All publications – online or offline – have deadlines. An article that is due to go to press on March 10 needs your final input far before March 9. So know when the deadline is, how long an internal review will take, and leave a little breathing room for yourself so you know how fast you need to do your part. If the publisher’s deadline is March 10 and your internal review will take a week, you may want to have your part done around February 21st.
3. Never Copy And Paste From A Manual. When you’re relaxing in bed at night, do you read your purchasing department manual. Of course not! Why not? Because it is booo-oooring! Writers depend on their interview subjects to make their articles come alive. If you paste your boring manual text into an email interview, the writer will likely not want to use quotes from you because it will bore the reader (i.e., their customer).
4. Use Bullet Points Sparingly. For some reason, us purchasing professionals love bullet points. And they can be helpful in certain documents. But if you’re answering every question with bullet points, it is an indication that you’re not giving a good interview. You don’t talk in bullet points, so don’t respond to an interview in all bullet points. Use them only to answer questions like “Can you tell me five keys to achieving this type of success?”
5. Write In Full Sentences. Writers love to use quotes. Having your quotes used is a testament to your talent. But if you don’t write in full sentences either your quotes won’t get used or, if they do get used, you won’t sound very smart. If asked something like “What are your goals for the year?” “Our goals are focused on achieving more savings than last year, improving supplier performance, and implementing a new Procure To Pay system” is better than “save more money, improve supplier performance, implement system.”
6. Don’t Use Abbreviations. If you’re responding to an email interview, write how you talk don’t write how you write. For example, you may write “managing the SC” and one of your co-workers may know that you meant managing the supply chain. But in an email interview, if you mean managing the supply chain, write “managing the supply chain!”
7. Don’t Be Curt. If all of your answers are shorter than the questions, it is a red flag that you’re not doing a good job as an interviewee.
8. Write Conversationally. Quotes come off best when the reader can imagine hearing your voice saying the words. Use colorful words. “When we presented our savings to management, their jaws practically hit the floor!” is so much more useful than “Our savings exceeded the expectations set forth by management.”
9. Always Be Ready For The Typical Last Question. Many reporters close the interview with a question like “What else might someone need to know about this topic?” This is your chance to totally control the direction of the interview. Have the perfect response scripted as the answer to this question will often get quoted word-for-word.
I hope that these help you.
If you are a purchasing practitioner and have an interesting story to tell, contact me. I am always looking for interview subjects for the Purchasing & Supply Management Podcast Series.