Press

Tips on managing journalists

Dhruv Vasishtha Product Management at Medidata Solutions

January 23rd, 2014

Hey FD,

Chatting with a journalist who wants to profile my company. The general sentiment I have received from others in the past is to be extremely wary and proceed with caution, when it comes to journalists. Does anyone have specific advice on how to manage and work with journalists for ideal or at least optimal outcomes?

Seems this would interview would be to get an overview of the industry / vertical I'm in and more on how my company is solving problems in the mental health space.

Dhruv

Kym McNicholas TV Host, Tech Jounalist, Director of Extreme Tech Challenge, Host of KDOW Radio's NewFocus On Innovation

January 23rd, 2014

I'm a former journalist. If you ever want to chat, let me know. I've had entrepreneurs in situations where tech crunch was going to break a story that they didn't want broken, so I had them give venture beat a well-crafted angle and tech crunch was no longer interested. so, you can play one against the other. But never trust an all-too-friendly journalist. if it seems too good be true of a story, it probably is. be very careful unless you know the journalist well. There are some well intentioned journalists and not so well intentioned journalists. know who you're dealing with beforehand. Ask people who've had stories written on them by the person who is writing your story. For example, one person at my former company wrote stories about two entrepreneurs who wanted soooo badly to have something written by our trade, and it seemed like it was going to be a great story... until it came out and instead of well-balanced skepticism, there were cheap shots. You have to be careful because while the old school journalism was all about the well-balanced story with well-thought out healthy skepticism, now it's about picking an argument and supporting it, even if it's simply with cheap shots. Know who you're dealing with. Read what they've written, and talk to those who've had the toughest stories written on them to make sure that they were fairly written.

Ben Sweat Director, Product at Idealab

January 23rd, 2014

Give them a good story, not just the story you want to tell. They can sniff out a press release kind of pitch. If it's not really news, hold it back until you do have news. Once you get them in, decide your talking points ahead of time. Stick to the script. Of course, you have to ask yourself, does the press benefit you right now and how will benefit you? Depending on the outlet, the press may bring more attention and hype that you are not ready for. If you are concerned that could be the case, then I'd find a way to politely defer. You hear stories occasionally where a company gets profiled in Techrunch, get lots of hype, can't deliver on it and then fizzle.

Lawrence Lerner Digitalization and Transformation Coach

January 24th, 2014

Good for you! Its great PR. I subscribe to HARO (Help A Reporter Out). Its free and Ive done 25 interviews in the last two years. Here are my lessons learned: Journalists are experts are story telling and writing. Despite the fact they may write for a very specific journal they may not have as much background in the industry as you might think. Dont make assumptions that they know your space Its your content. Ensure youve jotted down the important points you want to get across. You may go slightly off topic but you are helping them Whether its the most scholarly journal or casual reading, media is in the entertainment business. You are providing facts and a point-of-view but try to make interesting. Anecdotes go a long way Good luck and let us know where youre published! Lawrence I Lerner \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ Direct: +1.630.248.0663 Blog: RevolutionaryInnovator Twitter: @RevInnovator

Brahm Singh Eng Head - Deep Search at Quixey

January 23rd, 2014

Would love to hear what others have to say. Had similar question regarding talking to VC associates :)

Alison Lewis CEO/Creative Director

January 23rd, 2014

Agree with above, BEN. I'm doing a bit of a data dump here; hope it helps. And have a message book for your team. This has your facts, but also your language and what you want to say. This is very helpful in a group when people could say anything. Be clear and consistent. Making sure everyone says BluetoothLE; for example; not wireless. Other things: Make sure they spell your name or company or product name right. You'd be amazed how many times that is wrong, or how they don't put a link to your site. Journalists are looking for a story that fits their needs; find out what that is, find out who else will be on the pages that day; find out how they feel about your type of product before talking to them. You can say NO. If you do, make sure what is out there on you is something you want to share, they may put the story together without you. Also, when speaking. Leave space between your sentences so they can capture soundbytes. Journalists can be your best friend; but you need to be prepared and on point.

Dhruv Vasishtha Product Management at Medidata Solutions

January 24th, 2014

Thanks everyone, I'll let you know how the experience goes and of course send along a link if / once something gets put up

helloandyhihi

January 24th, 2014

"Be extremely wary and proceed with caution." Definitely be careful but don't approach the journalist with suspicion or a negative attitude. They're doing you a huge favor, treat them like it. 

Definitely think about the one thing you want to come across the article, and 1-3 other points you want in there, and make sure it's extremely clear to the journalist what those things are. Come back to those points several times in the conversation. 

Joanan Hernandez CEO & Founder at Mollejuo

January 24th, 2014

Hello Dhruv,

To add to the already cool feedback, here's the rule: EVERYTHING you said is on the record. Remember that. Even if you tell them is off-the-record, is for them to decide, not you.

Check out this great PR tactics article from Vivek Wadhwa.

Cheers!