Trend stories are a great way to establish a client as an expert and keep their name before potential customers. But while reporting such a trend story recently I had some interviews so bland, so self-evident, so non-committal I’m sure I won’t quote them. That’s a wasted opportunity for the vendor.

No matter what a media trainer, internal PR or other handler tells you, here’s what NOT to do if you want to be quoted.

1) Stay relentlessly upbeat: No matter what the subject, this source wouldn’t say that anything – the economy, the adoption rate of technology A vs. technology B, the financial pressure on internal IT staffs – was anything but mildly unpleasant. I don’t need doom and gloom “to sell newspapers” but I do need quotes that speak honestly to what I’m hearing in my other interviews.

2) Stick to your message no matter what the question: Some executives are driven to spread the current corporate buzzword – let’s say, “cloud computing” – and whatever the question, “cloud computing” finds its way into the answer. I won’t use that quote because a) it’s too vague and b) it didn’t answer my question.

3) Describe how well your own stuff works for you: “Why, Bob, using our own hyperventilated liquid-cooled servers we not only feed electric power back to the grid, but, heh heh, we even warm the roof garden with the cast-off heat.” Do you really think it’s news to my readers that a vendor uses their own products and says they work great?

I could go on and on with other sins – like being vague, using jargon that means nothing to an outsider, sticking only with the conventional wisdom on any topic – but you get the idea. Why can’t handlers just tell their spokespeople to be honest, to be specific, and to answer the question rather than preach?

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email or call me at 508 725-7258.

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