Thursday, August 03, 2006

Starting Findory: Talking to the press

I wanted to do a piece on talking to the press. I am a tech geek, not a marketing dweeb, so talking to the press is not my strong point. But, having been forced to do it, I think I have learned a few things.

The biggest thing I have learned is to focus on what reporters want. It seems to me that reporters are looking to write a solid, interesting story, supported by good sourcing and strong quotes. A typical story seems to consist a few paragraphs of explanation followed by some quotes from someone that express an opinion on the reporter's explanation.

My strategy is to only try to make a few key points. I try to say a few things that describe my impression of the overall situation, intending that piece to help with the explanation that is in the reporter's own words.

Then, I try to give just two or three pieces of opinion, my view on the situation. At this point, I try to talk slowly and carefully, keeping in mind that the report probably is trying to transcribe an exact quote. Sometimes, I repeat the quote or something fairly similar to the quote.

One other thing that I have found important is that reporters do not always ask the questions you think you they should. That is okay. You can usually take a question that you may feel is poorly chosen or misdirected and simply answer a variant on it that is the question you thought should have been asked. That variant is just as likely to make it into a quote as a more directed answer and may be more appropriate and more useful to the reporter.

Finally, I have found that most press coverage of tiny, little startups like Findory will be positive. After all, if they were going to write something negative, they would not bother writing about Findory at all. Yes, being ignored is an issue, but it is good to know that, when you are talking to the press, if you get any coverage, you are likely to get fairly positive coverage.

Maybe it is working on a news site, but I tend to have a lot of sympathy for the press. I think reporters are struggling with a difficult job and try to help them as much as I can. However, helping reporters is not a selfless act. The more helpful I am, the more likely it is that I get in the story, and any mention of Findory may benefit the company.

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