8 Steps To Help Secure Your Beyonce Interview

Here's the 8-part recipe for landing interviews with famous actors, actresses and musicians.
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Whether you’re a rookie or veteran freelance writer, you’ll always have to create story pitches to entice new clients or keep old ones. Some may include speaking with a high profile interview subject (HPIS) such as an actor, musician, politician or professional athlete. You might tell yourself, “There’s no way I can get that interview. I’m a nobody!” STOP IT because you can interview ANYONE no matter how seemingly untouchable they are. For example, in 2007, when I started my freelance career, I was a Toronto native with no published writing experience.

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This post is from Dave Mendonca, who is a Toronto freelance writer, former Canadian national television sports reporter and co-author of the celebrity & basketball quote book, Basketball Talk, The Way It Should Be! During his writing career, he's been published in The Dallas Morning News, FILM.com & Star Wars Insider magazine and has interviewed stars such as Beyonce Knowles and Jamie Foxx. In addition to his work, he always embraces opportunities to give back to the writing community by sharing lessons he's learned through his freelance writing adventures. Feel free to visit him at www.DaveMendonca.com.

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—By Dave Mendonca

For some, this could have been a game-ender, but not me. I kept writing and plugging ahead.

In 2008, through the steps I’m about to show you, I booked and conducted an interview with Grammy Award-winning singer, Beyonce Knowles which was later published in The Dallas Morning News, Houston Press and The Costco Connection.

So, how did this Canadian underdog WIN?

Here’s my recipe:

1) Have A Platform

Securing one is powerful for two reasons – it gives you credibility and it provides a stage for your interview subjects to promote themselves to a new audience. Platforms come in various packages – blogs, podcasts, social media, magazines, newspapers, television, radio, books and public speaking. In 2007, I found mine – a small online music e-zine (now defunct), The Tub Magazine.

The Tub Magazine Solange

Yes, it wasn’t Rolling Stone, but I’ll tell you what, it was good enough to convince Mathew Knowles (Beyonce’s father & manager at the time) to grant me a phone interview with his other talented daughter, Solange to promote her 2008 CD, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams.

Why?

Mathew recognized the opportunity to market her music to new potential fans. The article worked out well. So much so, I’d visit him months later for a bigger request.

So, how do you find or create a platform?

Start by taking advantage of websites like WordPress (create a blog) and BlogTalkRadio.com (begin a podcast). Focus on content you’re passionate about. You can also research media outlets you’d like to contact and politely email their managing editors to find out if they need freelance help. That`s what I did which led to writing jobs with various publications including Star Wars Insider magazine.

Don’t be shy. Ask!

2 & 3) Decide Who You Want & Find Out Her Desire

After my Solange experience, I knew Beyonce would be my next phone interview, but I couldn’t approach her father without suitable value to present. As a result, I researched online whether she had new projects to promote. Fortunately, in 2008, her CD, “I Am…Sasha Fierce” was coming out. Once I discovered that, I investigated various media outlets to see who would be interested in an article. Since she’s a Texas native, I pitched The Houston Press & Dallas Morning News -- both accepted. Now with a secured platform, I felt confident to visit Mathew again.

Remember, before approaching your HPIS and media outlets always think from their perspective. What’s in it for them? How can you help? Find out then deliver.

4) Use Leverage!

If I didn’t connect with Mathew and provide Solange good publicity, my Beyonce interview wouldn’t have happened. Leverage is a great friend because it will speed up the process. As a hungry freelance writer, you appreciate the time savings. Where can you find your leverage? In my experience, it can be through a platform you represent and the following examples:

A Friend/Relative/Representative– Look for ways to build winning relationships with people close to your HPIS. In addition to Google searching, investigate your social media network to see if you know someone who has any kind of connection. I find LinkedIn is a great resource. Once you secure mutually beneficial connections, your HPIS will more likely consider your request since you’ve been in touch with someone they trust.

A Charity – If you approach your HPIS’ representatives on behalf of a legitimate cause, you can appeal to their hearts. You can also take another route. Find out if your HPIS is associated with a charity. Research the charity’s website and contact its media relations or publicity department to set up a phone interview with your HPIS. Make sure to state how the conversation will benefit the charity and the HPIS via your platform’s publicity. This way, it`s a win-win-win. You secure your interview while the charity and HPIS receive free positive promotion.

5) Make Your Move

Alright, it’s time to go get it.

Ideally, you’d like to contact your HPIS directly, but in most cases, her information is unavailable, so you’ll have to reach out to her representatives (ie: agent, publicist, manager, secretary, etc). Yes, these are gatekeepers whose jobs are to brush you away, but if you present enough value and apply leverage, you can bust through these stone walls.

When doing your online research, if you have trouble finding contact information, here’s a trick I learned: Look for the rep’s employer then search for any company-related press releases. Usually, at the bottom, it’ll state the media or public relations contact e-mail address & phone number. Once located, just insert the HPIS reps’ name into the e-mail format then you’re ready to go.

Or if calling is more your style then feel free to do so.

Here's a sample e-mail you can send to any representative:

Hello ________,

I trust you`re well. My name is ______. I’m a (insert platform - ie: Writer’s Digest, etc) freelance (insert genre – ie: music, etc) writer who’d like to have a 10-15 minute phone interview with (HPIS) to promote her (briefly describe upcoming projects, businesses or charity work) to our (insert relevant audience description - ie: global, young, music savvy, etc) audience.

I'd like to conduct the interview early next month (make sure you give your HPIS 3-4 weeks’ notice). Since I realize she has a busy schedule, I'm willing to speak with her any day she is available.

Thank you for your time.

I look forward to your response.

Enjoy your day,
Ima Champion

Within the e-mail, sometimes I like to mention past celebrities I’ve interviewed and high profile publications I’ve worked for to further prove my credibility, but it’s not necessary.

Also, always suggest phone interviews because they are the most convenient to arrange for everyone involved. However, if your HPIS is in town, don’t be afraid to request an in-person conversation.

6) Practice The Double P

You WILL be rejected -- OVER and OVER again. Accept it now.

Most of the time, this happens because of conflicting schedules, your platform isn’t a match and so on. Don’t let it stop you. Keep moving! My suggestion is to follow up (if no response) on your original e-mail after two days. When you do, use my secret weapon – the confirmation e-mail.

What is it?

Here’s what a sample one looks like.

Subject: Hi Kelly, Confirmation…

Hello Kelly,

I hope you’re having a good day. I’d like to know if you received my recent e-mail and what your thoughts are regarding it.

I look forward to your response.

Thank you and enjoy your day,
Ima Champion

What’s the big deal? Well, at this point, all you’re looking for is a response to your original query. This is a way to receive one quickly. Since you’re a freelancer, time equals dollars, so the sooner you find an answer, the better.

By writing in the e-mail subject line, “Hi ___, Confirmation…”, you not only personally address your contact, but you appeal to her curiosity. She’ll ask herself, “Confirmation? What am I confirming?” then will open the email to find out. There’s something magical about it.

In my own experience, I’ve had a response rate anywhere between 70-90 percent.

See if it works for you.

Remember though, if your contact responds to your original or confirmation e-mail with a firm NO (ie: stop bothering me!) then back off. However, if she says something like “not at this time”, since it’s not a definitive answer, that opens the door for you to visit again in a month or two.

Be patient and persistent. The rewards will come.

7) Showtime!

After all of your hard work and dedication, you wake up one morning to see either a new e-mail in your inbox or notice a fresh voicemail phone message. It’s the confirmation you have landed your high profile interview! It’s a fun and satisfying moment.

I still remember when Beyonce’s Dad granted me the interview.

It was validation for a Toronto guy, who came out of nowhere with no previous published writing or music industry experience, that he could accomplish the seemingly impossible.

Once you receive confirmation, thank your contact and arrange a date and time to speak with your HPIS. Afterwards, feel free to do a celebratory dance or uncork random fist pumps while roaring like a lion in the middle of your apartment.

Yes, I might be speaking from experience.

8) Deliver The Goods

Alright, it’s time to do some interview research. Re-visit what your celebrity is promoting and ask her relevant questions. Be sure to create the proper atmosphere for your interview. If you`re speaking with someone about serious topics then behave accordingly, but if it`s light material then make sure your HPIS is having a good time.

Remember, it's a conversation, so relax. Once the interview is done, thank her and her representatives right away and let them know you’ll e-mail the final article link. After transcribing, writing and publishing your piece, send it and thank them again for participating.

That`s what I did with Beyonce’s representatives. Not bad for an unknown Toronto writer.

Now, it`s your turn. Make the impossible, a reality.

Good luck!

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Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
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