Fred Whyte profile: What makes this leader tick?
This column first appeared in Inside Business news journal, February 2014. The company name is fictitious.
Another news article deadline loomed and I'd yet to verify the source company's name. The body of the press release read SMITT Intergalactic Veterinary Services, which established SMITT as an acronym - perhaps for something like Smith, Monroe, Inred, Thomas and Troy - but I'd always understood that the company had been named for owner Dr. Smitt, in which case the name should be written with a capital "S" and lowercase "mitt."
Awaiting a response from my contact person about the matter, I turned to the company's website.
The name resurfaced as SMITT in the body of content, but now within several variations: SMITT Intergalactic Animal Clinic, SMITT Intergalactic Veterinarians, SMITT Intergalactic LLC. Now I had two concerns, which essentially boiled down to one important question: What's your company's full, official name, really?
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock ...
My contact hadn't responded, so I called the company.
This should have resolved the issue within 90 seconds. I held while the receptionist sought "someone who could help" me.
Help me, yes!
Imagine my surprise to hear that she couldn't find anyone "authorized" to answer my question.
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock ...
I eventually confirmed the name being Smitt Intergalactic Veterinary Services, but it shouldn't have been so difficult or time-consuming to accomplish this.
Shouldn't one of the company's goals be to help members of the media identify the organization and convey information about it with accuracy?
I've been writing, presenting and advising people about writing for business and media relations for a few years, and I devote an entire section of my new book to expansion of the concept that I call "being media-friendly." This means being recognized by members of the media as someone who speaks their language, upholds a high standard of professionalism and respects the purpose, deadlines and professional needs of reporters, editors and others in the field. Click here to read an excerpt of that section.
Why not help members of the media help you?
Spill it out, the inner muse cajoled. Spill it all out onto thirsty, droughty paper. To poetry. To story. To song. Every day; whenever I command you. No experience this life-crushing should escape the wrangling, the torrential processing and the paradoxical beauty of the mournful, pitiful, brooding, faithful pen.
For no such experience, if put in the hands of a writer, can truly elude its preordained transformation from spirit slayer to renewer of life by the one who's been entrusted with such wretched torment to offer it up to those parched and poised to drink from the flood of written imagery and raw artistry born deep in the isolating pit of grief. ...
Being interviewed? Fabulous! Grab these pointers for getting the most out of the experience.
Copyright 2012, original material from the presentation handout titled Supplement to “Writing for Your Small Business or Organization” presentation.
Looking forward to an interview with a print, TV or radio journalist can be as nerve-racking an experience as it is exciting and potentially significant for your business. I've been in the interviewer's seat for an estimated 1,200 or more articles that I’ve written as a reporter, and I've also been on the other side of the table as a source contributing to numerous print and broadcast pieces for others.
On the job, I’ve even met a handful of potential expert sources who declined interviews because they’d had what they perceived as a bad experience with a reporter in the past. Most believed that they’d been misquoted; others had simply had unrealistic expectations about the length or impact of their contribution. Certainly any professional journalist with integrity aims to always be accurate with quotes, input, facts and other details. But we’re all human, and mistakes get made. If you’re nervous about being interviewed for a print piece and therefore you’re inclined to decline, I advise that it’s worth getting over this.
Whatever you anticipate, whether you’re excited or nervous about contributing to an article or broadcast segment, heed these tips to position yourself for a good experience:
Nora's next media-relations workshop:
Nora Firestone is a professional writer, freelance news reporter, acquisitions editor, website designer and speaker. Since 2011/'12, she also develops and leads presentations and training in the areas of writing, publicity and media relations and do-it-yourself home improvement and website design.