As a health journalist and a healthcare content marketing writer, I’ve interviewed countless physicians for stories on everything from having a healthy pregnancy to how to prevent a heart attack.

Regardless of what the story is about, one thing I’ve realized is that the doctors I interview are either seasoned pros or have no idea how to conduct interviews.

Whether you’re creating content for a blog, thought leadership article or an annual report, ensuring that your physicians are prepared will help you create content that generates leads, engages patients and gives you credibility.

Likewise, if you’ve landed an interview at a top media outlet, your physicians will give better interviews and be called on again and again for future stories.

Here are 4 ways you can help your physicians give great interviews.

1. Be a pro.

When scheduling interviews make sure your physicians will be available. Sure, appointments run late and emergencies happen, but don’t schedule interviews at times you know they could get delayed, like when they’re wrapping up surgery or in a board meeting.

Many times physicians are too busy to remember they have an interview, so always send them calendar invites and confirm the night before.

2. Prepare them.

It happens to me practically every week. I take a call with a doctor and he says, what’s this for again? Clearly, his PR and marketing team didn’t communicate the details with him.

When asking doctors to do interviews, it’s important that you give them everything they need to know: the name of the outlet, the type of media, the audience, the story idea, the name of the journalist or producer and anything else that’s important for them to know.

If you’re working with a physician on a content marketing project, be sure to send them questions ahead of time if they want to prepare.

Most physicians can talk off the cuff, but if they have been asked to speak about something in particular that needs to be researched ahead of time, be sure to let them know and offer to help. If the physician comes prepared with his own talking points and can cite relevant studies, it will help the interview go even more smoothly.

3. Make sure they talk in sound bites.

I find that physicians fall into 3 camps:

  1. They give brief answers with little to no detail, i.e. yes, diabetes is dangerous.
  2. They ramble on and on about one idea that isn’t relevant or important or they go off on a tangent.
  3. They give brief, but informative straightforward answers and speak in sound bites whether they’re being interviewed for a blog post or a TV show.

Experienced writers understand how to conduct interviews, ask the right questions and how to get the physician talking. Yet if your physicians talk in sound bites, they will have credibility and your content will be a lead generation tool.

4. Help them focus on strategy, not their own agenda.

As a healthcare marketer, you have buyer personas, a content marketing strategy and an editorial calendar in place. Although your physicians are on board to help you create content, some may not like your story ideas, the voice, tone and style of your writing or the final version.

Remember that doctors are not content strategists and should not write content. Although they are vital to content creation, they need to understand your organization’s goals and objectives for generating new leads, keeping patients engaged and reducing attrition.

Physicians are a healthcare organization’s greatest asset, as both expert sources and content creation partners. And when you take the time to guide and support them, your organization can do amazing things.