Here is the final part in our series of interviews with Silicon Republic Editor John Kennedy offering further insight in how your PR tactics can be more successful.
John is the editor of Ireland’s leading technology news website siliconrepublic.com as well as the weekly e-Thursday pages in the business section of the country’s biggest selling daily, the Irish Independent and the Digital Ireland monthly supplement. John also features occasionally on Dublin’s Newstalk 106 FM, where he discusses technology issues. His broadcasting experience also extends to discussing technology-related issues on the BBC World Service, RTE Drive Time and Today FM’s Sunday Business Show. In 2005 he was named Technology Journalist of the Year at the Irish Internet Association’s Net Visionary Awards.
How do you get a journalist to attend a briefing, launch or an event?
Invent a time machine. There are fewer journalists doing vaster amounts of writing. If we’re going to leave the office for a few hours on end, it has to be worth our while. The same goes for press trips. If it’s not going to be educational or productive or justifies time out of the office, it’s not worth attending. So it really goes back to the pitch. If it’s a major announcement like a manufacturer investing in hundreds of jobs or if the CEO of a major global company is in town, these have merit without doubt.
But, particularly in the technology business, too many companies make the mistake of treating all journalists the same, mostly as a trade channel magazines. But we have different agendas and different outputs. My raison d’etre online is that tech savvy people as well as newbies can engage with the content, for a family newspaper it’s got to be accessible and at the same time relevant for the paper. Ultimately people have to learn something.
Getting a journalist to attend an event is essentially all about the story they’ll walk away with. This goes back to the pitch and ensuring we are anticipating a good result.
What would be your advice to a company being interviewed by you for the first time?
Just tell the truth and relax. If you truly believe in the tale you are about to tell, then it will show. If you aren’t enthusiastic or frank and it’s all just spin, it won’t enthuse the interviewer. Also, don’t diss your competition, it’s not big or clever and we’re not going to run the gauntlet of libel laws just to satisfy you.
The main thing is to be yourself, anticipate the questions we will ask, know your business inside out and the subject being discussed.
Be composed if you’re thrown a curve ball. Take your time. In most interviews, it’s not live, you can talk off the record and that will be respected. But don’t bullshit your way around a topic, or waste time waffling. We don’t have much time, but we’re here to listen to you, so make it count.
What’s the most memorable thing, funny, interesting or plain ridiculous that has happened to you in your career as a journalist?
Too many stories to tell and you’ll have to come with a bottle of Bourbon. My career has moments that verge from the sublime to the ridiculous. One minute you could be shaking hands with Bono, interviewing Vint Cerf or checking your hands for frost bite after falling down a mountain in Utah.What’s the most memorable thing, funny, interesting or plain ridiculous that has happened to you in your career as a journalist?