Friday, September 7, 2007

Move along... There's nothing to see here (OR, Why your company doesn't deserve press)

Here are the common characteristics of why you're not making any news.

1. Product too hard (or boring) to explain: For most business press reporters, if they can’t quickly understand what the product is, they assume that their readers aren’t going to understand it or care either. If your company is bad at succinctly describing what business you're in, your current appeal as a business press story is approximately zero.

2. Same tired story as every other competitor you have has pitched to the media: There are certain story angles that have been exploited to such an extent that anything that bears a resemblance to them will be promptly dismissed by the weary business press reporter. From "rockstar executives" to "disruptive technologies" - there is a very long list of cliches / associations that do your chances way more harm than good when you bring them "out of the box" in a "Web 2.0" kinda way. ugh.

3. Spokesperson just doesn't have "it": Few companies have magnetic personalities speaking on their behalf. Great storytelling ability, sincerity and sense of humor are among the characteristics that I’ve seen that seem to separate the really good spokespersons from the other 99.99%. People often don’t realize that whether or not the reporter actually likes the person they’re speaking with may be the single greatest determining factor in whether the story gets written or not. But when the spokesperson has “it,” the odds of being covered by business press increase exponentially.

4. Lack of credibility: There are certainly exceptions, but most reporters are not willing to stake their personal reputation on a glowing article about a company unless there is solid evidence that it is headed in a positive direction. Most businesses (and senior management teams) don’t realize the amount of triage that goes on within business publications in terms of allocating the relatively scarce print space (the amount of selling that many business press reporters have to do internally to get their ideas signed off on … the number of stories that make it far into the eval process, but ultimately die on the gurney, etc.). Getting conned by an undeserving company and writing an undeserved piece about that company is especially damning to a business press reporter’s reputation.

So, make sure that your C-level team understands that while yes, your company is amazing, it may not be the next biggest thing since Berkshire Hathaway.

"Sorry, bud, your lips move, but I can't hear what you're saying."

No comments: