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On the other side of the interview

My Dad and I. Our smiling mugs (captured by Chris Dunn) were sent out all over the Internet.
My Dad and I. Our smiling mugs (captured by Chris Dunn) were sent out all over the Internet.

I’m used to being behind the notebook and pen, camera or video camera asking you questions. I don’t even sit still well enough for photos (just ask Kate Penn when she tried to take my mugshot).

So to say it was weird to be on the other side of the interview would be an understatement. I guess, too, I never thought I’d be interviewed.

I’ve blogged about my father’s Parkinson’s disease on this blog, and how among other things, it’s taught me lessons in journalism.

But this Father’s Day, my family was interviewed by the Michael J Fox Foundation for their Father’s Day campaign — daughters doing great things to help find a cure for their father.

During the course of the conference call with the Foundation and a PR person, I felt really awkward on the other side of the interview. I’m used to asking the questions, and controlling the pace. I found myself worrying more about how what I would say would sound. Would it be quotable, or would they just need to paraphrase me?

It’s one thing for me to write something and send it out.

I also started telling the PR person she’d be better off marketing the story in the Tampa-Orlando markets, where my family lives, and here in the York-Harrisburg area, where I live. Right after I said it, I apologized, telling her I know she already knew that. Good thing I was on the phone so she didn’t see how embarrassed I was.

My Dad has struggled with being the story (he blogged about it here), but for me, I think my issues were with lack of control and embarrassment. Control-wise, when I blog and run social media for our family’s site and work, I am the one writing it, adding photos and posting it. I’m marketing it through social media and beyond. But this time, I had to sit back and let someone else do it.

On the embarrassment side, I completely understand where my father is coming from. For me, it’s one thing to talk about my dad and all the people I’ve met while attending Parkinson’s events and fundraisers. But for someone to pay attention to me and my work .. that makes me uncomfortable. I had to keep reminding myself that bringing in $2,000 at a Pints for Parkinson’s event is worth talking about.

All in all, the interview resulted in a Foundation blog post — For the Unstoppable Harmon Family, Every Day Is Father’s Day. The Foundation also invited me to write a 200 word piece they used to send out an email to all subscribers about fathers and donating in honor of Father’s Day. In the end, that brought in more than $9,000 for research.

It also helped me understand what the people we write stories about must feel. I field phone calls all the time, and we take every story seriously. But to be the person who’s name is in the story makes me see it differently. You want it to be perfect, to know when it will run, and to know what the plans are for everything. So thank you, for trusting us with your stories.

The nerdiest part of it all, for me, was the excitement I had when my story got picked up by the Huffington Post. I’m used to seeing my name in print, but in smaller, more local outlets. I was giddy with the thought of how many people would see the story and read about what my family was up to.

And while I couldn’t be more proud of my family, I think I like it best on the other side of the interview. Though, for the good cause, I’m pretty sure I could be talked into it again.