Managing Press

Managing Press is the third post in a series of five posts about Must Dos for Self Starters.  The first post is on how to respond to requests in a reasonable amount of time and the second is on money matters, spreadsheet included. Today we’ll cover five things to remember when giving an interview with a magazine journalist.

1) You’re the Expert

These freelance writers are doing just what you do; working to create some new and exciting ideas to present to most of us who are picking their noses in front of computer screens late at night.  In order to make us sit up and think you you have to pick one or two points that you and only you know.  And then hammer them home as often as you can.

When you’re consulted about your area of expertise, your role is to be willing to say what you think and know.  In most cases you’re most likely wrong but do speak with confidence regardless.  If you’re done your research, your effort will most likely come through on the page when the time comes.

2) It’s OK to Say No

If you hear the words “but don’t you think,” stop and stand still in the middle of that empty open field filled with cold wind and heavy snow and say something like – that may very well be what YOU think, but I think differently, as I imagine you know.  Then bow out.  Turned around and step in the depressed footprints leading back to your small warm hovel with a fire burning.  The fur rug on your stone floor is going to be a so much more comfortable than the conversation you’re about to embark on.

That’s it – disaster averted.  There’s no way you are going to convince this person that your opinion is worth considering.  You’ll end up getting angry and long-winded and you’ll forget the most important point: you and this journalist are not friends.  You do not him or her anything, least of all your valued opinions, unless you’d like to make a respectful trade.

3) Be Visual

Provide your own photography to accompany the story where ever possible.  Don’t allow  magazine hired  photographers to take your press photos for a story because you will end up looking like a goober.  Definitely don’t allow press photographers into your event because they will make you and all your friends look like goobers.

Do team up with an awesome photographer who can represent you the way that you’d like.  Treat that photographer like gold because she will be half your communications strategy.  Trick of the Trade: charge standard photo usage fees to cover the extra cost.

4) Have Some Manners

Please send me a copy of the article when it’s published.  Thank you for sending me the article.  We appreciate you taking the time to include us in your piece.  Or even – hey writer who was awesome and got our project – here’s another company we like, doing a similar type of thing that you might want to know about.

Follow-up can lead you to other writers, more press, new collaborations and even maybe somewhere down the road after years of working together, a sort of friend. All that work you did to get the initial inquiry and story?  Only half its worth without continuing the relationship after the story goes to press.  Even, let’s have a drink sometime after the article is out is acceptable (although still not the same as friends).

5) Answer the Question

Don’t ramble on philosophizing or questioning, expressing doubts about your understanding of consumer culture or the engine that drives the magazines that support what they do that, in turn, covers your venture.  They very well may agree, but those are coffee table discussion and they are at work not in a coffee shop.  Even if you are at a coffee table, picture the journalist wearing a suit in a dimly lit office with cubicles and half height dividers instead.  Now you get the picture.

Journalists need to condense, simplify and package. Part of your job when you’re working with them is to make theirs as simple as possible.  Imagine what you want to see in black and white words on the page and just say that.

And now we conclude today’s post and the third post in Must Dos for Self Starters.  Next up in the series will be on finding collaborators and charging well.  All in five paragraphs. 

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