Be Careful Not To Paint “The Media” With A Broad Brush

After nearly 30 years of working in and around “The Media,” it’s interesting to hear the perspective of professionals from other disciplines after experiencing what it’s like to be interviewed by journalists, especially inside newsrooms.

This week, I arranged for multiple interviews, editorial meetings and journalist briefings in advance of a major business event. All together, our group met with about ten different outlets over the course of just two days. The takeaway from the business executives and marketing professionals who accompanied me in the meetings was noteworthy. They were surprised how different the conversations were – how much the questions and points of interest varied from outlet to outlet and even from journalist to journalist. We covered essentially the same material in every conversation, but the tone and outcomes of each meeting were different. The non-media relations professionals found that fascinating.

Often “The Media” is talked about as a monolithic entity. But, it’s important to remember that the news business is like any other industry. The individual companies share common traits and, via the nature of competition, interests. But each individual company or even office culture is unique. The same goes in newsrooms.

This is something my Tanner Friedman colleagues and I take for granted, working with journalists on a daily basis. But others have only heard all of the generalizations with none of the customization. Until an eye-opening experience like my clients had this week, it’s hard for so many to understand the human element that goes into, and often makes, news coverage.

Certainly, there are certain “dos” and “don’ts” that apply to media relations and news coverage in general. But within the wide range of “dos,” it’s imperative not to paint news organizations or individual journalists with a broad brush. Most often, it’s about using a fine point pen.