Columbia U Chat | @jodyavirgan

Writing/Prepping Tips

-- Just start writing, it can be in the middle, the end, wherever. You’ll find the rest

-- Short intros

-- Start your prep “in the middle” of the conversation (don’t feel over-obliged to start from the beginning every time, trust that context will come out over the course of the conversation)

-- You can build an entire segment around one surprising fact or well-researched anecdote (The “I heard on NPR moment…")

-- Write to set up your guest to tell the audience what they know, not to show off what you know

-- Know your interviewee. Sometimes a “yes/no” question works, sometimes not (Terri Gross is good at this)

-- Imagine the full arc of the conversation, anticipate answers, and know you won’t get to it all

-- Use tape creatively, and not “as tape” - (ie “here’s that clip”)

-- Ask a specific listener question, don’t just open the phones. Target demographics, community groups, etc.

-- Use stats as stats, not as copy

-- The audience (usually) doesn’t care about the questions you didn’t ask. You’ll always have a couple great questions you didn’t get to. Don’t sweat it

Research/Booking Tips

-- Read, read, read

-- Read efficiently (opeds, newsletters)

-- subscribe to lists, but also know what audience that list is speaking to

-- city/state first read, politico playbook, fordham’s center on nat’l security roundup, azi at capital ny, wonkbook, digg, times-union morning brief, avik roy on healthcare, the transom (subscription only), newpaper’s roundups

-- Use social. Duh.

        -- refresh your feed often. Adding (or removing) one person can make all the difference

        -- it’s easy to create an echo chamber, work hard to bring in diversity of all kinds

-- Know different communities, identify the connectors, and know the best way to reach them

-- not everyone has a publicist (obviously). some communities are on fb, some on twitter, some on email. reach them where the conversation is already taking place.

-- Have a legit reason for adding another guest. Get creative about how to use them if you do

-- Don't be afraid to pick up the phone

-- Be nice to publicists, follow up with guests, ask them to keep feeding you ideas

Other Tips (Producing, Directing, Digital, etc)

-- Use callers to do the work for you. If a caller wants to ask a question you wrote, let them do it

-- Understand the way people typically answer questions (answer, ramble, summation -  and what that means for when you can multitask)

-- Reward interaction. Don’t ask people to participate unless it’s going to really add to your storytelling

-- Crowdsourcing tips

-- Not everyone has to participate in every project. Sometimes getting a few great responses is enough to tell your story

-- That said, try to create different levels of engagement over the life of a project

-- Know (at least basic) html. Not an option to not know it

-- Stay up to speed on new tools