Dealing With Losing Subject Matter Experts

Posted January 11, 2021 in
Video Video
Good afternoon videographers,

I've been a bit of a ghost on this platform, but I'm hoping one of you or some of you would grant me your wisdom with a dilemma I am having.

I've been dealing with a heavy surge of losing subject matter experts before I even get them on camera. Most have stated they feel overwhelmed from simply reviewing the outlines I've sent them and bow out just before our scheduled time to film. It has been about three weeks of really digging in and trying to find people to be on camera and I am becoming exhausted.

Part of myself is wondering if I'M doing something wrong. 

Has anyone else fallen victim to this problem? How were you able to get out of this hole? How did you build a steady base of subject matter experts who you could rely on?
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Jolie Higazi
Hey Jameson, I'm also not a videographer, but I've worked with content managers who have some of the same struggles in nailing down SMEs for interviews for blog content. 

My best piece of advice is to be fluid and be creative — each one of your SMEs may need a slightly different approach when working with you. 

On the content side, for instance, some SMEs might prefer a live interview, some want an outline in advance, some want to be the one creating the original outline, some send a video of them brainstorming about the topic -- the options are endless.

If they're overwhelmed looking over an outline you sent them, maybe set up a casual meeting to look it over together. 

Dig into why they're overwhelmed-- Maybe they aren't sure what they should even be looking for, maybe they're nervous they won't remember it all, maybe they have other ideas about it but don't know how to express it or if you're open to that feedback. Who knows! 

I think the key is to just try to get your foot in the door to talk with them, build some rapport and trust, and meet them where they're at. 

Good luck!
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Jameson Killen
Thank you Joli for your suggestions and advice.

One thing I've noticed is that once a potential SME becomes scared, nervous or overwhelmed, it becomes more of a challenge to learn from them why they are wanting to not be a SME.

Do you have any examples where you where talking to an SME and they suddenly bowed out? How were you able to get them to tell you the reasons for not wanting to contribute? Or better yet, how were you able to reel them back in?
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Jolie Higazi
During my time as a content manager years back, I do remember some interviews falling through and not panning out. I think the biggest thing in my time was purely time constraints/them not seeing the value of the interview though, not a fear or nervousness on their part which it sounds like you're seeing.

I think this is where relationships are key. If you're able to have a casual watercooler conversation with them about what's happening in their work world that they're working on, you might find that there's other factors at play (workload, fear of being on camera, not seeing the value, etc). 

One thing that sounds like an opportunity for you is to hone in on how to alleviate their fears/overwhelm in the first place so you don't end up in a position where you need to reel them back in.

This might mean going slower with them at first, but sounds like it could help in the long run. Of course, all easier said than done!
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