If you write B2B content for your business, there’s a strong chance you’ll have to create blog posts and articles based on conversations you’ve had with colleagues/clients.
There are different ways to approach it depending on how you want to use the conversation and get the information across. For example, how much of the ‘interviewees’ voice do you want in your piece of B2B content?
Here are three different styles of write up to consider with pros and cons:
1. Simple Q&A
This can be the easiest way of getting across someone’s thoughts and ideas on a topic.
Writing up can be easy, too, particularly if you carefully plan your questions.
If you can, order your questions so that there is logical flow to them.
This means, when you come to write up your Q&A, you’ve already got a structure, so it’s just a case of trimming and editing the answers into coherent (and concise) written English.
If it’s been a more organic conversation, it can make it more tricky to pin down specific questions and answers. And you’ll have to work out a logical structure.
Q&A style interviews, because of their structure, means it’s harder to give context and background or set the scene (planning your questions can help).
But while you can rewrite your question to introduce a particular point, you don’t want them to be long and rambling.
Unlike other feature styles, you won’t necessarily start with the most important question, but one that sets the scene.
This means you’ll need an introduction that highlights or teases the most attention-grabbing points in the piece.
You could also use a particularly strong soundbite quote to grab attention in the introduction.
2. ‘Standard’ feature style
This is more like an interview feature you would read in a newspaper or magazine.
It is more work than Q&A style as you need to build an article around the conversation with background information, context, additional research and data.
You’ll need to extract the salient points of the conversation and a few key quotes.
Reserve direct quotes for a strong, well-articulated point or the person you spoke to uses a good turn of phrase.
Back up points made in quotes with additional information and data.
Be mindful about using too many direct quotes as it doesn’t read well; paraphrase if a point is articulated awkwardly or could be phrased in a more interesting way.
If the piece is turning into a string of quotes, it might be worth considering writing up as a Q&A or an opinion piece (see below).
The big advantage with this style of write up is you’ve got a bit more creative freedom.
You can zoom in on the most attention-grabbing point, use words to paint a picture or tell a story, start with a stand out quote etc.
There is room to reflect not just on what was said but on the tone and body language. You can put readers in the room/on the Zoom with the person you’ve spoken to.
Think of interviews in newspapers and magazines where the journalist talks about where they’ve met their interviewee, how they looked or their body language.
It might not always be appropriate, but adding a little bit of this sort of detail to an interview feature can really help bring it to life and make it more engaging.
3. Write as a first-person thought leader
If the person you’ve spoken to has an interesting take on a particular topic or issue, writing up in the first person can work really well.
You can do this from a general chat – reflecting the essence of their opinion and thought.
Like the Q&A style interview, the write up can be made a lot easier by planning your questions with a rough structure in mind.
Key is to find out the main points your interviewee wants to make and qualify those points.
It is important to listen carefully to how your interviewee expresses themselves to capture their tone of voice, so the piece sounds authentic.
Listen for particular word choice and turn of phrase.
Capturing how your ‘interviewee’ speaks, not just what they say, adds personality to the piece, makes it more human, more engaging and can help it stand out.
What you are aiming for is to capture the essence of their opinion and present it in an interesting way that is authentic to them.
Final tip – recording
Record your conversation (with permission, of course) and get a transcript, then you don’t have to worry about missing anything when you come to write up.
To save the faff of transcribing yourself, use an AI service like Otter.ai or a transcription service like Rev.com.
I use Otter (they aren’t an affiliate) as you can either upload an audio file or, using the app, directly transcribe as you speak.
If the sound is good, it is fairly accurate, and it’s easy to check the transcript against the audio if there is a mistake.
I generally record on two devices just in case there is a technical glitch.
While I’ve never used Rev.com, I know plenty of people who do and rate it highly.
Want to read more about writing B2B content and other related content? Here are some recent posts:
- 6 tips for creating B2B content which connects and engages
- Content Strategy: How to stay ahead in a fast-changing world
- Mastering B2B thought leadership in a noisy world
- Content strategy: 5 tips for successful delivery
- Lessons learned from making 3.5 videos to use on social media