Sleeping with the Enemy
Now that I've got your attention, I want to discuss the media and our relationship with it as professionals in the finance industry. First off, the media is not our enemy. They are an integral part of how our work gets voiced and how we, in turn, access insight and information regarding our industry. As with any tool, of course, you have to know how to use it safely. Here are some points to ponder:
- Get permission first. Talk to your firm’s PR person or your boss BEFORE sharing information or going to media sources. Not doing so is a good way to lose your job.
- Make friends with the media. Their currency is information. In the correct setting, sharing this information is very good for business.
- What does “Off the Record” really mean? You are only “Off the Record” if you have agreed upon this IN ADVANCE with an ethical, reputable journalist. Set the ground rules and make sure you have them straight. Do not throw this phrase around lightly. “Off the Record” means asking a journalist to go to JAIL in order to defy a potential court order and keep your name confidential. A better word is “on background”. This is a friendly principle that implies your conversation is not for attribution. Again – this should be agreed on before hand – and trust your gut on who to trust.
- Don’t be a media whore. Your contact with the media should be limited to reporters with whom you can have a symbiotic relationship.Reporters value original content – go to a trusted source and cultivate an authentic alliance.
- Don’t tell your life story. Journalists are paid to produce news. Get to the point and help them get the information they need. They have a million other stories to produce.
- Don’t call a reporter on deadline. This is only useful if you like the click of a phone hanging up followed by dead air.
- Know who you’re pitching. The entertainment reporter won’t care about business headlines. Likewise, the magazine editor may not be worth calling for a 300 word story. Know what you have to offer and to whom it’s best suited.
- PR people are good at their jobs. Don’t try to do it all. When in doubt, hire an expert.
To the Roads Ahead...