I learned an important lesson the other day. Actually, I was reminded of something I should have figured out a long time ago: I got four of our investment managers to block out time for a long conference call with a journalist who was commissioned to write a piece about our area of expertise.
During the call we wanted to impress the journalist by handing out as many of our insights as possible. Our objective was to clinch a big presence in the article by sharing our deeper and more refined insights with him. We pulled out all the stops.
In the end, all we got were a couple of minor quotes about some of the pretty obvious and mundane things we casually mentioned ‘in between’. Frustrating!
But we need to be fair here. The journalist wasn’t to blame. We are the ones who got it all wrong.
Here’s what we forgot: the media usually doesn’t have much use, time nor interest in trying to decipher your ‘insightful’ comments. All they want are witty quotes they can attribute to someone who knows what they’re talking about because most of the time it’s only about writing a credible story and moving on to the next piece.
So, unless you give them something verbatim, in plain language, making your point in no more than two or three sentences, you might as well be talking to yourself. If a journalist really wants more depth, it will become quite obvious from the questions they ask.
The ability to ‘Dumb things down’ is an important skill worth mastering. Somehow we all know it but we keep forgetting it.
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