If you work in hospital marketing, sooner or later it’s likely that you’ll need to conduct a subject matter expert (SME) interview to gather technical details for a service line page you’re writing.

At WriterGirl, we pride ourselves on our ability to conduct effective SME interviews with doctors and other providers in order to gather healthcare information that we turn into great, consumer-friendly content for clients’ websites. Here’s a peek into how we do it:

  • Ask clients for an intro. We’ve found it’s helpful if our client contact (often someone from the hospital’s own marketing team) provides an introduction between the SME and the writer. SMEs are usually busy doctors who don’t have a lot of time to sift through their email and it’s easy to ignore a message from an unfamiliar email address. Encourage the client to act as a liaison between you and the SME in order to keep the project moving.
  • Include SME info on the sitemap. Especially for large web projects, we recommend listing SME name and contact information (both email address and phone number is best) next to each web page. Doing so helps keep everyone on the same page and cuts down on confusion.
  • Don’t skimp on prep work. In order to maximize both your time and the SME’s time during the interview, plan to spend some time getting prepared. Check out the existing website, read the SME’s online bio or do some research on the topic you’re discussing. Knowing some details going into the conversation can save you lots of time — and maybe even frustration on the part of the busy SME.
  • Express your thanks. Be sure to follow up with the SME with a simple “thank you” following the interview. If you’ve been communicating through email, an email follow-up works just fine. Besides showing your gratitude, you may have follow-up questions or need his or her assistance with a content review later on, so be sure you left a positive impression.