In Public Relations, Storytelling

Great stories come from great questions. But if you don’t know what to ask, you may never uncover the most interesting thing about your business and miss out on tons of valuable media coverage.

I love talking shop. Which is why I was thrilled SEO guru Ted Ives met me for coffee. I picked his brain about how he started his online marketing company, he asked me about PR and content strategy. We geeked out.

One challenge he mentioned was getting truly interesting content out of his clients. (The cliche is still true, Content is King.) A client may not recognize that a certain experience is unusual or compelling. To a fighter pilot, plowing through power lines is just another day at work. (True story!)

So, how to uncover those interesting anecdotes in a client’s life?

Ted wished for a list of 50 questions that would always lead to great stories.

Wish granted, Ted! I hope this list makes you feel like a winner. And to everybody else looking for a story when not much is going on, be my guest. I hope this list kickstarts many interesting conversations.

50 questions that create great stories

Personal History

Everyone has a front page story in them. What’s yours?

A: I contributed to the stories that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the resignation of James E. McGreevey, who had hired his male lover for a pretty swanky salary in Trenton, NJ. Just one of many war stories from my days at the Star-Ledger.

What is one experience that changed you?

Travel

What is one country you’d like to visit? Why?

What is your ideal vacation?

What is one trip you wished you’d never taken?

Life

If you could relive one moment of your life, which would it be?

If you could change one moment of your life, which would it be?

What is one thing you want to do before you die?

What is your proudest moment?

Personality

How would you describe yourself in three words?

How would your best friend describe you?

Who is one person you’d like to have dinner with?

Favorites

What is your favorite food?

What is your favorite quote?

What is your favorite book or TV show?

What is your ideal date?

Interests

What is your passion, outside of work?

What is your ideal car?

What is one thing you want to learn about?

Family

Is there a story behind your name?

Who is someone who is important to you? Why?

What is one thing about your parents you admire?

What is one thing you would change about your parents?

How would you describe your childhood?

What is one trait you get from your mom?

What is one trait you get from your dad?

Experience

What is the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you?

What is the most dangerous situation you’ve ever been in?

Success

What is one thing that has made you successful?

What are you really, really good at?

What is one challenge you have overcome?

What is one failure that shaped you?

What is really, really hard for you?

What is one lesson you learned early on that has served your business well?

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