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Why One Interview Won’t Cut It

April 23, 2013

Dog Ear Consultants

InterviewHeadsWe’ve all been there. That moment when you take a look at your notes from a recent interview for a profile and think, I’m good. But, you’re not. Actually, the piece you’re about to write with the notes from that one interview will likely be alright, but if you want something better than that, pick up the phone and call someone else. The profilee’s best friend. Her mother. Her boss. There is no doubt that you will glean useful information from an additional interview. And guess what? That second interview need not be anyone associated with your school. Too often alumni magazine editors run all their story sources through the “school filter” and choose only folks with a degree from the school issuing your paycheck. Branch out. In most cases, it’ll be worth it.

Case in point: Udo Schlick.

Schlick works for BODY WORLDS, the company that takes donated bodies and puts them through a process called plastination in order to display them in funky poses  (sometimes with props) in museums and science centers all over the world. He was recently installing an exhibition at state science center, where one of our grads happens to be the director. Schlick has nothing to do with the director’s school. He’s a burly German guy, a former dissector, who now whistles while unwrapping human hearts for display. In short: He’s awesome—the perfect character to tell the story of the BODY WORLDS exhibit, and a way of showing the final result of the negotiating and prep work that the director and her team had to pull off in order to have Schlick standing in that room, pulling plasticized flamenco dancers from giant crates.

In the end, Schlick was in the lead, and he was there to wrap the story, which was partly a profile of our alumna and partly an issue piece about the importance of science education for our communities and schools. Could we have done the story without him? Sure. Could we have simply interviewed our alumna by phone or in her office and pushed out a feature. Yes. But it wouldn’t have had as much detail or scene or outside perspective.

And we wouldn’t have heard about Udo Schlick’s favorite specimen from the BODY WORLDS exhibit, a ballet dancer, posed in full curtsy.  And we wouldn’t have heard his thoughts on her: “She’s very pretty.”

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