Thursday, November 01, 2007

[New York Bureau]: Some musings on journalists and chickens

As most of you probably don't know, in my grown-up life I work in the communications department of a non-profit. This afternoon I went to lunch with a friend who's been in the field a lot longer than I have, and I didn't have to implore him twice to get him to share some words of wisdom with me. (I think he feels his words of wisdom are undervalued).

One of his most helpful suggestions was that if I wanted to get the attention of journalists for our non-profit, I should start hosting briefings or information sessions of some kind, in which our staff would share their expertise on various matters. Because journalists - like free-range chickens, as Ma noted - far prefer morsels that they find themselves to morsels that are handed to them. Just as Ma has seen her sturdy Buckeye chickens turn up their noses (umm... beaks?) at food thrown at their feet, I've seen journalists turn away and sigh when a non-profit tries to sell them on writing about something exciting that they're doing.

So, my friend said, rather than calling and haranguing them about the importance of our undertakings, we should just alert them that we will be giving out information for free.

And if the prospect of free nuggets of information isn't sufficient to bring them over?

This helpful fellow also suggested that the briefings be conducted over a breakfast or lunch. This, too, made sense. Working in the foundation/non-profit world, I have seen men and women worth billions of dollars totally transformed by the sight of a crappy kosher cream cheese Danish. No matter how cranky they are when they stumble into the office, and no matter how rich they are, most people can be won over by food.

How much more so, then, the hungry roving journalist - traveling around all day on the subway, in search of something interesting to happen (waiting for someone to throw out some morsels cracked corn) with no budget for meal times. By simply hinting that muffins or egg salad sandwiches will be served, you can win these people to your cause very quickly.

This information I provide to you free of charge.

If you are a journalist, let's talk.


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