Why thinking like a journalist gets you more media coverage and jumpstarts your brand.
(Answering TWO questions will do the trick…)
By Gigi Barnett
“You can tell any story you want, even if you’re not interested in the topic,” one of my former editors at The Miami Herald told me years ago.
I stared at him. He peered back.
Was he serious? I was only interested in a handful of topics at the time (blame it on the mind of a recent college grad, who was still enamored with romance novels.)
“All you need to do is ask the right questions,” he explained. “And, the most intriguing questions to ask are how and why.”
Not long after that, I tested the theory.
He was right.
Here’s what he meant:
Journalists are charged with digging up the answers to myriad issues and problems. Let’s say that you are a reporter (wink, wink) who is absorbed with telling human interest stories. Think: elderly couple finds each other after years apart. A preview on the latest off-Broadway show coming to town. Or a family that has a winning lottery ticket.
But, your editor sends you out on a story about local elementary teachers partnering with bioscience businesses to create lesson plans next school year. (snore!)
All you need is the right question. The “who, what, when and where” (also called the 4Ws) are clear. Now, focus on the how and why. You may ask:
- Why are small children learning about biosciences now?
- Why are teachers and businesses teaming up to teach the subject?
- How will the businesses benefit?
- How will scientists teach children such a tough subject?
During the interview, you learn that the scientists want to spark interest in children at an early age; so, it possibly becomes a future career option. And, they know that some of the kids will remember where they learned about biosciences; and, might return to work with the company in the future.
It’s homegrown talent in action.
This is exactly how you get to the heart of your brand story. You’ve got the 4Ws down.
But, go deeper.
- Why do I want to work with the type of clients I’ve previously identified?
- How will they benefit from working with me
- How will I benefit from helping them?
- Why do I believe that I’m the best consultant, coach, speaker for them?
Look at your answers. What do they yield? See a recurring theme? That is where you start writing your brand story.
Furthermore, if you find a common thread between your story and most of your potential clients, like you have the same why or how…double down on that.
It works! Take my editor’s advice.