Page last updated at 17:30 GMT, Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Getting celebrities involved in School Report

School Reporters at Villiers High interview Richard Herring
Schools have secured visits from celebrities such as comedian and author Richard Herring

Students and teachers often ask how they can get 'big names' involved in their School Report project.

Schools have been very successful at bidding for celebrities and interviewees have included England cricketer Phil Tufnell, author Nick Hornby, BBC presenter George Alagiah and comedian Richard Herring.

Here are some of our top tips for persuading famous people to join in with your school:

Generally we find that celebrities - or their agents - are more likely to respond to direct requests from schools and students rather than from the School Report team.

A useful starting point might be to check whether your school has any famous alumni or if there are any celebrities in the local area.

There might be a special event or tour they are involved in which is local to you or perhaps someone connected with your school - teacher, member of staff, pupil or parent - has some personal connection with an interesting interviewee.

George Alagiah with School Reporters from Prior's Field School
Prior's Field School secured BBC presenter George Alagiah on their own

So, if there are specific celebrities or people your students want to interview then we would suggest that you and your students work together to write a brief proposal: this could be something you then send by email, or it could just be to clarify your thoughts before you phone your target.

Key points to include:

• When you want to do it (ie between now and News Day on 24 March 2011)

• Why your students want to speak to that particular person

• Whether you plan to film or record the interview, or take photos

• How the final version is likely to appear (eg online report, radio, video)

• It is also probably worth explaining what School Report is - they may know nothing about it!

Contacting celebrities

Most famous people have to be contacted via an agent or representative. For writers you could try contacting their publisher, for musicians and bands you could approach their record label or for sports people you could contact their club's press office: a quick internet search should track down these numbers.

You could also search the Spotlight website for details of agents who represent actors and actresses.

Obviously you can ask if the guest or celebrity would be willing to visit your school but you and your students need to be realistic about their busy schedules.

More often that not interview opportunities will involve you needing to travel or getting an interview during a wider planned publicity event, such as a book launch. It is often worth getting in touch with local bookshops to check whether they have any publicity events coming up.

Tips for telephone interviews:
Diss High School students
Pre-arrange the interview time - and make sure you stick to it!
Provide the interviewee with topics to be covered in advance
Try to use a phone with a 'speaker' function if you can
Tell the interviewee that they are on speakerphone and introduce yourselves
Take it in turn to ask questions and note answers
Write up the results as a group
In the BBC, telephone interviews are called a 'phono'!

So, as alternative options to a face-to-face meeting, perhaps also consider requesting a telephone interview or arranging to email a few questions to your interviewee via an agent or manager.

It also might be a good idea to contact your local MP or councillors for their comments on a local or political story you are covering.

They might be keen to meet students in person or give a telephone interview at a prearranged time.

They are also likely to be able to comment on a wide range of stories and issues so at the end of your interview you could ask them to give a 'soundbite' on another report being covered by your school.

You can find out how to contact your local MP here.

Finally, don't forget to get in touch with the School Report if you need any help or more advice.

And of course let us know if you do manage to successfully bid for a famous interviewee as we maybe able to help support your School Reporters and/or reflect their report on our website!

Villiers High get it 'write'
05 Nov 10 |  School Report


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