Thembi Terry is a digital storyteller and a copywriter. She is a contributor to platforms such as Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women, iNgudukazi Magazine, Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe and Caterpillar Cocoon’s Trust. She is a personal blogger on her blog www.thembiterry.co.zw. She has mastered the art of storytelling on multiple platforms in different formats. As a multipotentialite, her illustrious career has been in advertising, the civic society and media broadcasting. @thembiterry on Facebook and Twitter https://www.girlgrandeur.co.zw/author/thembiterry/
When I am thinking about my next story, I have to find the sweet spot between what the public wants to read about and what will boost my writing career. Strategically, I use my role as a writer to meet people who I admire and would like to have in my network. Interviewing them allows me to make strategic connections and also to learn from them.
My biggest lead for stories to tell is undoubtedly social media, Twitter to be exact. This is where I discover story ideas and exciting personalities to interview. I admit that I do have a personal bias towards certain stories and personalities.
I am obsessed with the African woman’s story. On the Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe blog there’s a column called the #MarigoldSeries where we profile outstanding women in Zimbabwe and across Africa. So when I am scrolling through the Twitter timeline, I am on the prowl for my next story or interview.
As a digital storyteller, I have to be thinking about who will rake in the most clicks, boost website traffic thus ultimately making me AdSense money. I regularly contribute for the Girl Grandeur Zimbabwe blog, it shows the public how many times an article has been read. As a writer, your creative ego wants to have good, healthy numbers on every article.
Having studied Journalism and Media Studies, I understand that for a story to be newsworthy, it must be guided by 8 news values which include; impact, timeliness, prominence, proximity, the bizarre, conflict, currency and human interest. If I come across a story online which ticks off at least 3 of the news values, I know it will be a good story. For example, if someone famous from Zimbabwe is trending on Twitter for selling eggs. This story ticks off prominence, proximity, timeliness (while they are still trending) and human interest.
Read more: https://www.digitalthirdcoast.com/blog/values-content-newsworthy
As a contributor at iNgudukazi Magazine, the Editor will pitch story ideas on whom to cover and which stories to write. This model is ideal for guided writers who do not enjoy enjoy the Paradox of Choice that comes with creative freedom. Once the Editor has given you a story to write, whether it is aligned to your interests or not, you have to write a good story. Make sure the publications you choose to write for are aligned to your interests so that when a story is picked for you it’s not out of your scope of interest.
It takes a lot of research to adequately prepare for an interview. Having background information can help you to structure questions in such a way that allows the interviewee to take you on a journey. The structure is the same, there’s an introduction, the middle and the end. You know you’re towards the end of the interview when you start discussing plans for the future. Just because there is a standard template for interviews, it does not mean they have to be boring and the same. The way you structure your questions will determine whether the journey is a sceneless straight road or a riveting rollercoaster ride of a read.
Keep the angle of your interview in mind as you craft your questions. When I interview women in business, I resist the urge to ask them about their personal lives. Contrary to popular belief, most people do not like talking about their private lives. It makes them uncomfortable and they start to clam up for the rest of the interview. Keep the interviewee at ease the whole time, that’s how you keep the story flowing.
I personally zero in on how they made their money and ask how best their business can be supported. This will inspire aspiring entrepreneurs and maybe one of the readers will want to assist or partner with the interviewee. You never know who will read the interview. Make sure it has something for everyone.
You have to be flexible and curious. Obviously, you have your set questions but these are just a guideline. If the respondent offers new information, follow their lead and find out how far they are willing to go. If this information is new to you, it’s probably new to your readers as well. Never leave issues hanging. Don’t leave readers with unanswered questions. This means that you must anticipate any questions that the reader might have.
If you are doing the interview remotely, this becomes difficult. This is because you have sent the questions probably via email and they have responded on the same platform. It can be bothersome to keep emailing back and forth to probe further. The respondent might stop responding.
Having a sit down to conduct an interview is ideal because you are chatting and you can probe for more details as you would in a normal conversation. People love to talk about how well they’ve done. So be very praising and congratulatory. This will make them feel good and want to tell you more.
• 5 Quick Tips for a good interview
- Make the respondent feel comfortable. Appreciate them for their time. Send them a copy of the article before it goes public just in case there are errors.
- When you are putting together an interview article, ensure that you keep the original recording/transcript from the respondent.
- Ask yourself, “Is this Google-able?” If the answer is yes, search deeper for an untold story.
- Read previous articles written on your subject and build questions using that as a foundation.
- Is the article teaching the reader anything new?
Growing up, a lot of magazines would turn interviews into an article and use the interview responses as anecdotes here and there. Writing for digital, I prefer to write the question and place the response underneath in a ‘Question and Answer’ style. People nowadays are lazy to read, that’s why video content has become so popular. So having boldened questions in the article helps the reader peruse which questions are of interest to them in a fast and efficient way.
Read here: https://ingudukazi.co.zw/meet-lady-tshawe-of-the-ndebele-crush-brand/
Writing for digital gives us various options for multimedia use. I like to use multimedia to sell the goods and services of the interviewee. I achieve this through adding links from their social media adverts and previous work straight into the article. As much as the article must rake in views for me, it must also be beneficial to the respondent in some way, hopefully through advertising and eventual conversion and sales.
Tell The Tribe A Story (Our Challenge To You)
This challenge is open to all creatives, whether you write, design, draw, animate, photograph, videography and everything else in between. Use any of the structures shared here to intentionally create a story with your skill. There’s no limit, just challenge your creative side with any of these. Post your work on a platform of your choice and share it with us on any of our social platforms, tagging us and using the hashtag #tribesmokesignal. Challenge runs till the end of March. Happy creating!