Whether you’re writing a news feature, producing a documentary, recording an audio interview, or creating a piece of multimedia journalism it is important that you find quality people to speak with. Often finding these quality talent, and convincing them to speak to you can be one of the hardest parts of the storytelling process.
Finding talent can be a daunting process especially if your new to the craft. Newcomers often don’t know where to look for interesting and informative people and can be timid when approaching those people for an interview.
So to help everyone in their quest to find better talent I have come up with five quick tips on places to find those important ‘hidden talent’.
1. Find authors who write on a topic
Authors are incredibly knowledgeable and interesting people. You will be able to get a feel for what they might talk about by reading some of their work. Once someone is a published author they are also a credible source as writing a book takes a considerable amount of time, thought, energy, and research. Many authors can also be very creative and eccentric people who will add colour, life, and variety to your project.
To get in contact with a published author look for websites and contact email addresses listed in their books. If they have them, write an email or leave a comment on their site. If they don’t then contact their agent to organise an interview. I guarantee you that many of them will be more then happy to speak with you.
2. Search university websites
Most universities have lists of all their key staff – lecturers, professors, researchers etc – available online. These lists can be invaluable for finding quality talent. Every one of the staff on a universities listing are experts in one field or another and most want to talk about what they do.
Journalists or storytellers can add a considerable amount of information and credibility to their stories by speaking with someone from a university. Look through university websites, identify some staff who will suit your story, and give them a call.
3. Find someone old
Sometimes there is nothing quite as interesting, informative, and exciting as speaking to the older generations. I’m talking about those who are past their prime but still have excellent stories to tell of the adventures they had in their youth.
You can find elderly people almost anywhere but you could try visiting an old peoples home and talking to some of the residents. Many of them will be more then happy to speak with you.
If you do find someone wise to speak to just be sure that you listen carefully to what they have to say. Their experience is life so they will have many important and valuable comments to make.
4. Check local noticeboards
Noticeboards are great for getting story ideas but are also great for finding talent who are the experts of a particular field in local communities.
You can find names of people who run everything from dance classes, to cooking lessons, to music classes, even flying or skydiving lessons.
Get their names and numbers off the board and give them a call. They will often be interesting people who will have a wealth of knowledge in their craft for you to tap into.
Another way to use noticeboards is to post a call for talent. If you ask for specific types of people you might end up with many different types of people to choose from, all who believe they have something to say on your topic.
5. Telephone directories
Your telephone directory can be an excellent place to find people to speak with. If your story requires an angle from a business owner then you can easily find a business which matches your needs. The majority of businesses you could want to speak with are listed in the telephone directory along with names and numbers for most people in your area.
Most telephone directory providers also have online versions which can save you a great deal of time and also allow you to search in other cities or states.
While this has not an exhaustive list it has served me well so far. The most important thing to remember is don’t be scared to call or talk to anyone for an interview. Often you will find that no matter how big a persons status in the community, people love talking about themselves. Use this fact to your advantage and you’re guaranteed to find great talent for your story.