When you are working on freelance writing assignments, you may get an assignment that includes doing an interview with someone. Obviously when contacting said person, you want to let them know a little bit about what your article is going to be about. However, I found out recently that there is a thin line between telling them just enough and telling them too much (even when my gut told me to keep it simple).
My experience was to contact one person for an article. I emailed them, told them that the article would be like an update on the organization they were associated with. However, I should have just left it like that. My gut said to stop and just send the email. Instead, I added that this article was going to be part of a series on similar organizations in the area. The reason I added that was to help make the person feel like I was not ‘picking on them’ (it was a organization that was part of a larger network that some people criticized, so I knew that they were a bit on edge about reporters).
The person agreed to an interview appointment and so I prepared for it. However, the day of I called to do the interview and the receptionist told me that the person had sent me an email (I had not read it yet) about needing to get permission from the communications director of the umbrella organization before she could talk with me. I ended up having to call that communications director and found out that the person I was supposed to interview had told them about my comment on the series about the various related organizations and the person thought that it would be prudent for me to connect with the person in charge of communications for the umbrella organization. After a brief explanation with the communications director, I was given the okay and sent on my way to wait for the person I was originally supposed to interview to contact me (after the communications director explained the situation).
I finally heard back that same day and was able to conduct my original interview with no issues and the person I interviewed greatly appreciated my article (thankfully). So it ended well for all parties involved, but it was still more difficult than I had originally wanted it to be.
So moral of the story? If you feel your gut saying ‘shut up!’, listen. I thought that the simple additional explanation was just me being helpful, instead it turned into confusion and miscommunication that ended up costing me time and effort. Next article, I’m keeping the explanations to a minimum and not adding anything beyond a need-to-know basis.