A few months ago I offered some tips for ensuring emailed comments will make it into reporters’ stories. They include making sure your client answered the reporter’s questions (!), explained buzzwords and didn’t cite third-party sources that need further checking.
But what does a “good” response to a reporter’s question look like? I just happen to have an example — a piece I did for Computerworld analyzing how “software-defined everything” (IT infrastructure created and controlled by software) will affect outsourcing.
In my request for pitches, I specifically asked for sources to discuss:
- How the rise in “software-defined everything” is affecting customers, especially their outsourcing plans.
- How SDE affects which applications, workloads or business processes customers outsource.
- Specific, actionable recommendations about which applications or workloads are best or least suited to “software-defined” environments?
- And other trends customers should be aware of.
Fail #1: The Purely Self-Serving Pitch
“Bob. The movement toward IT outsourcing has spawned the (SDE) market. Service providers need to be able to customize their networks and deliver policy-based networking in order to meet customer demand, and (SDE) provides that capability. **** can comment on the role of (SDE) in enabling IT outsourcing…”
Did the PR pro explain how his client could answer my questions? No. Did he promise his client would talk about anything except how great his product or service was? No. Did I interview his client? No.
Fail #2: The Kinda Self-Serving Pitch
“****, CTO and co-founder of ****, a provider of Network Security as a Service, can talk about why he feels SD-WAN, in particular, is a short-sighted approach to solve network connectivity issues. For example, (he) argues that the cost of deploying SD-WAN to manage MPLS/Internet traffic would be better spent cracking the “middle mile” challenge. Further, (he) believes that a software-based approach to networking and security will make it easier and more cost-effective to manage.”
Again, this response tells me much more about what the client wants to promote (Network Security as a Service) than answering my questions. In the very last sentence, the pitch begins to touch on what I’m writing about, but doesn’t make the direct link to outsourcing I need. Again, I passed.
Success #1!: Answers
The below response is from ****, co-chair of the ****. Let me know if this is along the lines of what you were looking for and if you would like to connect…
1) How the rise of “software-defined everything” is affecting customers’ IT plans in general, and their outsourcing strategies in particular. Response: Enterprise IT leaders see (SDE) as a core part of their strategy to reduce cost and improve agility improvement strategy. Every CIO is now examining if a cloud-first, partner-first approach is the best for their organization.
2) How “software-defined everything” affects which applications, workloads or business processes customers are outsourcing? Response: When application infrastructure is software based it becomes much easier to have supply chain and outsourcing partners take over tasks. SDE opens the door for nearly every enterprise function to be outsourced.
3) Specific, actionable recommendations about which applications or workloads are most or least suited to “software-defined” environments. Response: Most Fortune 500s have legacy apps whose cost to port to a new infrastructure would be very high. In those specific cases it’s better to port the data to a new cloud app.
4) And, of course, what upcoming trends or market developments customers should be on the lookout for. Response: One of the most exciting areas…is Software Defined Perimeter (SDP). SDP allows enterprise to distribute workloads globally yet maintain full access control to applications, data and infrastructure for employees and partners. Subsequently SDP enables SDE to happen.
I wound up interviewing this client, who turned out to be a key source for my story. Not only did he show he could address the questions, the specificity of his answers told me a phone conversation would be time well spent. He even introduced a new topic (software defined perimeter) that I hadn’t paid enough attention to before.
Next time a reporter asks for sources for a story, ask them for three or four sample questions, and make sure your client can answer them. If not, push back with hard questions until they do have something to say. If they don’t, tell them to pass on the interview – or at least not be shocked if they don’t wind up being quoted.