Know Thy Journalist

Recently, I stumbled upon Tom Chambers’ “Five Things You Need to Know Before Dating a Journalist.” Chambers cuts right to the bone, capturing the mindset of many journalists using some, shall we say, colorful language. I know this because I was one before fleeing to the world of public and investor relations.

At this point in my career, I may not have to date them, but I certainly have to deal with them on a daily basis. I understand these creatures of media, and to help our clients understand them a little bit more, below are some of Chambers’ musings.
 

  1. We can figure things out. Understand, we’re paid to dig deep, find the secrets and wade through *&%$#. We can pick up on subtleties, so what you think you are hiding from us won’t be hidden for long. … We spend all day separating fact from fiction, listening to PR cronies and dealing with slimy politicians. If you make us do the same with you, you’re just gonna piss us off.
     

  2. At some point, you will be a topic. Either through a feature story or an opinion column, something you do or say will be a subject. Get over it. Consider it a compliment, even if we’re arguing against you in print…
     

  3. Yes, we think we’re smarter than you. In fact, we know it. Does that smack of ego? Absolutely — but that confidence is what makes your heart go pitter-patter. … Guaranteed, when you say “towards,” we will automatically say “toward” — “towards” is not a word. We’re not trying to call you dumb (even though you don’t understand the English language), it’s habit. The same will happen when you say “anxious” when you mean “eager” and when you answer “good” when someone asks how you are doing.
     

  4. You’re not less important than the job — the job is just more important than anything else. One doesn’t become a journalist to sit in an office from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday. We do take our work home. If news is happening, we’ll drop whatever we’re doing — even if it’s with you — to cover it.
     

  5. You won’t be disappointed. Journalists are intense, driven, passionate folk. We carry those same attributes into our relationships, making it an extremely fun ride well worth the price of admission. … Our brains are a great resource. Ever go on a date with an attractive person and wind up wishing you hadn’t because everything they say is just, well, stupid? That’s not going to happen here.

 

Ron Neal, rneal@pondel.com
 
 

Annual Reports Go Multi-Media

Well, it’s not exactly breaking news, but I recently came upon an interactive annual report/annual review that is worth sharing.
 
In a recent interview with IR Magazine, Stanley Black & Decker’s director of investor relations, Kate White, says that she “wanted investors to see the 10K brought to life, to see the numbers and the charts and the graphs, and to see the people who really drive it all.  That’s what investors want time after time – to hear from the people who run the business day to day.”
 
The result is an informative, easy-to-watch and navigate review of 2009.  Although the review did not fully replace Stanley Black & Decker’s more formal, glossy annual report, it is a great reminder that during a time when it is increasingly difficult to gain mindshare from investors, it is never a bad idea to think outside the box and bring life to your company’s story.
 
If you’ve seen any other great examples of creativity in the field of investor relations, comment here and let us know.

 

Laurie Berman, lberman@pondel.com
 
 

The Importance of Homework

As management teams continue to focus on reducing expenses amid recessionary woes, it is important for companies to weigh the benefits of attending investor conferences.
 
When executives factor in time, travel expenses and networking opportunities, it is easy to understand the myriad variables that should be considered before committing to a conference.
 
Among the most important variables is the quality of investor meetings that the host, usually an investment bank, has scheduled for a presenting company.
 
We’ve recently heard stories about consultants who have managed to wiggle their way into one-on-one meetings and ultimately usurp an investor’s time slot. Unless a management team knows in advance they will be meeting with a consultant, the time is probably better spent meeting with the right investors.
 
Bottom line:  Review the one-on-one meeting schedule before attending a conference and make sure the time and money spent to attend the conference is time and money well spent.

 

Evan Pondel, epondel@pondel.com
 
 

Taxi Driver Confessions

Ever try talking to a New York City cab driver?  Think about one of the things you almost always ask.
 
Getting to where you are going in one piece is what counts when taking a Manhattan taxi. But if you’re like me, when you’re not on the cell phone or returning Blackberry messages, perhaps you’ll engage the driver in conversation.
 
Are those your kids? As we all know, pictures of cab drivers’ kids often adorn the dashboard. How old are they?  How’s your day been so far?
 
Lauren Collins, who writes for The New Yorker and reported on an unusual public forum in Manhattan—“Out from Behind the Wheel,” sponsored by public radio station WNYC—is kinda telling us that while it’s OK to talk to cabbies, there’s one thing you should never ask.  (The forum, by the way, was for the much maligned drivers to talk about who they are; discuss strategies for coping with stresses on the road; and figure out ways to improve the industry.)
 
Collins reported that cabbies have lots of beefs that are not that unusual, from coping with drunks, to paying a $.50 MTA tax that ostensibly funds city workers’ pension plans, to credit card readers that don’t work, and more.
 
The one passenger question, however, that gets the goat of New York City taxi drivers, is “Where are you from?” Unfortunately, Lauren did not tell readers why the cabbies said they dislike that question so much, but she reported that passengers should “never” ask it.  Thanks for the advice.  Hopefully, at least some of us will remember it next time we are in a New York City cab.

 

Roger Pondel, rpondel@pondel.com