One rule of writing we’ve always been told is to “write what you know.”
While that advice certainly has its place, it doesn’t really apply when your aim is to cultivate a variety of content that holds value for museum professionals across multiple fields and even departments.
A number of the posts published on the Museum Hack blog are collaborative. We like to ask team members across our different departments to chime in on subjects they’re most passionate about. Writing collaborative blog posts for us is an ideal way to highlight different the strengths and expertise of our entire team.
We’ve laid out the steps our writers use when they team up with fellow Museum Hack staff members to develop articles covering a multitude of topics. Two heads are better than one!
Step 1: Brainstorm
Brainstorm ideas for blog articles that could be worked on with other people in your company. Do they have insight into a certain topic that your audience would benefit from?
Make a running list of team members you want to interview. Plan out when you will start working on each one. Create a mini-editorial calendar or Trello board to keep your ideas organized and ready to go.
Step 2: Set up a time to talk
Whether in person, over the phone, or via a video call, now’s the time to connect with your colleague so you can get the facts and insight you need.
We start by scheduling a 30-minute phone interview with the staff member. It’s important to take excellent notes during the course of the call, and (if the interviewee is willing) maybe even record the meeting to refer to later when you’re writing the post.
While a “brain dump”-style interview always works, it’s helpful to have a list of questions prepared to help steer the conversation in the right direction and save yourself from having to ask too many follow-up questions once the interview is over.
How do you come up with great questions?
- Look at your topic from the target audience’s perspective.
- If you were the one reading the article, what takeaways would be the most helpful or have the greatest impact for you?
Once you have that information, you are ready to work backward to see which questions would yield those results!
Step 3: Fire up your word processor
You’ve had your interview, you took great notes, and now it’s time to get the ball rolling!
Refer back to your notes for specific facts and figures, and if possible, follow up with your interviewee for any details that may be fuzzy.
We don’t publish our collaborative pieces following the typical interview format. Instead our writers turn the interviews into thought pieces and long-form posts. We find that these type of posts are exciting and helpful to our readers. If you think your audience would enjoy a post with quotes and interview-like sections, then go for it! You don’t have to stick to a rigid template.
Step 4: Follow through and follow up
We suggest running the final product by your interviewee before publishing. This helps ensure that nothing the two of you discussed was misconstrued, and it gives your interviewee a chance to double-check that you’re not giving away any “secret sauce!”
Step 5: Repeat and repeat again
Now that you’ve written and published a great piece for your blog, it’s time to start the process all over again! Reach out to other colleagues on your list for different perspectives. When you’ve exhausted your list of contacts to speak with, go through it again! Reach out to colleagues you’ve already interviewed and see if there’s another topic they’re passionate about that they’d like to speak on.
We hope you’ll use the tips we’ve outlined to team up with your museum’s staff and expand upon the areas of expertise represented on your blog. This variety of content will help present you and your institution as thought leaders in the museum world.