So there you are, sitting at a table for coffee with an aunt, and you are trying to distill thousands of words and intricate painstaking research about something she hasn’t got a clue. Something that you are really passionate about, something upon which you are building your career and getting paid. And what do you do? You give it to her straight, in 10 seconds, say 30 words.
That’s the skill. Dumb down your subject, make it accessible for a relation, a family friend, a stranger in the street. Whatever age, whatever background, make it understandable for them – and that’s what you do with a journalist.
A journalist knows a little about everything, but not much unless they are a specialist. Suddenly you arrive on the scene by email, a tweet or a phone call. You basically have one chance, one attempt at making your voice heard above the thousands of conversations that crowd their life these days.
So what do you do? Research. Research the journalist and their publication, understand how your product could fit into their news agenda. Then sell it, sell it bold, be confident, take the knock-back and come back fighting for more.
Be prepared. Offer them an all-singing, all-dancing package. You have everything ready, a press release, a photograph (get in your branding), a key person available for interview, and a video if necessary. A case study, yes, a human being talking about what it means to them. And when a journo wants more, you promise you can deliver within their timescale.
Don’t you cringe when you’re listening to a radio programme, it’s the hot topic of the day, and there’s no one available for interview. Credibility for that company goes down the pan. You must always have someone for interview – and brief them!