As a reporter, I rarely used e-mail to conduct interviews.
Among other drawbacks, it eliminated the opportunity to elicit insights that would take the interaction in an unanticipated and even more interesting direction. And in potentially adversarial conversations, it prevented me from catching a slippery source off-guard with a tough question or observing their body language and tone of voice.
But as a publicist, e-mail can be a tremendous ally, especially when working with clients on a limited budget. As a means to gather basic background information that helps put flesh on the bones of a news release, an e-mail exchange can be tremendously effective
Instead of taking upwards of a half-hour or more to extract that information, I can take five or 10 minutes to toss some queries at an individual and let them provide written responses.
The utility of this approach hinges largely on the client's ability to offer detailed answers in a timely manner. If they don't give enough detail--and don't do it quickly enough to meet some looming deadlines to ensure the timeliness of a release--then trying the e-mail shortcut can backfire and result in an even longer, costly process.
A recent scenario in which this avenue worked very well: a news release I crafted for Brian and Jun Benakos (pictured), owners of George's CARSTAR in Chicago.
You can see the release here at Triblocal.com.