Blogs  / June 4, 2013

Journalists: it’s about them, not you.

by Rebekah Iliff

The chasm between your company story and the journalists that are going to care about said story is wide. So wide, in fact, that to make the leap across you must fundamentally understand what you are asking them to do. More than that, you must understand who they are.

Have you ever tried to build a following of your own around content? Meaning, created a point of view, continually written about it in an eloquent and controversial way, generated conversation around it, and then convinced your audience to “buy” whatever you are selling?

If you have, then you understand that writing stories and connecting dots for your audience is fundamentally about you. It’s about your experience, your knowledge, your mistakes, and your passions. As writer Amanda Palmer eloquently reflects:

We can only connect the dots that we collect, which makes everything you write about you. Your connections are the thread that you weave into the cloth that becomes the story that only you can tell.”

Bearing this in mind, let’s talk about what you – a startup founder, a PR pro, a communications person – are asking for when you ask a person from the media (particularly top tier media) to push your story out to their audience: their trusted following who they have likely spent years building…yes, often under a large organizational umbrella, but mostly by their own chutzpa to unearth those gems of stories to entertain, educate, and engage their constituents.


You are asking them to take a personal bet that YOUR story, YOUR product, YOUR fill in the blank is so darn interesting that it will make them look like a hero, a first mover, a trendsetter, a breaking news deliverer, or just down right, flat out smart. Really smart. Beyond that, you are asking them to take a personal interest, which enables them to connect the dots between past experiences to tell your story in a more compelling way.

It’s that simple. And we must respect it.

The problem with a majority of PR efforts is that those steering the ship often forget that writers, editors, and reporters are actually artists. While you are banging away on a product or a project with deadlines and numbers driven deliverables, the artist is off creating their next big thing.

Like you, they ache to be discovered, validated, and appreciated for their work.

It may be a breaking story about a technology that will enable us to fly to the moon, or it may simply be a human interest piece about a founder who slept in a van for two years before she had her epiphany – regardless, the good ones, the ones who are ultimately wired and equipped to tell your story – are best understood from this angle.

Think about this.

Think about how to slow down, reflect, and re-engage with the media from this angle. You won’t get it right every time. But inserting empathy and human nature back into the equation, instead of desperately grasping for attention and making it about YOU, make it about them.

Support them in creating their art.

In this type of relationship, both parties win…both accomplish their goals.

Next week, you’ll get an inside peek at what journalists – including Robert Scoble, Patrick Hoge, and John Moss – really want in a pitch.

Until then, I leave you with this:

“Every line and word is vitally connected with my life, my life only,” Henry Miller observed in his timeless reflections on writing“be it in the form of deed, event, fact, thought, emotion, desire, evasion, frustration, dream, revery, vagary, even the unfinished nothings which float listlessly.”