Part of a page of a book.
‘Can I Quote You on That?’ by William Essex, published by Harriman House. Available as an ebook, although you can still pick up the hardback and there’s even a Vietnamese-language paperback. My rather grey picture. Sorry. It felt like a good idea at the time.

Entertaining journalists

Here’s an extract from my book Can I Quote You on That? Written considerably before Covid, et cetera, it’s about handling the media. Until the other day, I hadn’t looked at it in ages, but now — yeah, I think I might post the occasional extract. Be warned: the world’s changed — a lot — since it was first published. Here goes:

Round-table discussions, wine-tastings and other gimmickry

It is a good thing to entertain journalists. Nothing said in this section is intended to suggest otherwise. However, media entertaining is done badly at least as often as it is done well.

If you are going to invite, say, a dozen trade journalists to a round-table dinner and discussion on the future of your industry, here are some key points.

  • They don’t work in your industry. They work in the media.
  • They stop thinking about your industry when they knock off work.
  • Most of them probably want to talk to each other at least as much as they want to talk to you.
  • Oh, and if you’re going to start making speeches and presentations, you might want to make sure the wine is open and within reach.

If you are going to invite journalists to a wine tasting, casino evening, go-kart race, seasonal media party or other festivity, here are some more points.

  • Some of them will enjoy the gimmick. Almost all of them will want to network with each other.
  • Somebody else threw a party rather like this one just last week, except they also had clowns and a fire-eating juggler.
  • They know you’re delighted to see them. They know your company welcomes the opportunity to get to know its friends in the media in an informal setting. They know this is a chance to get to know the colleagues you’ve brought along with you. Siddown.

Take any advice you can get from your PR people on which journalist likes what kind of event. Vary the mix a little. And don’t automatically assume that every journalist needs to take home a heavy desk diary, or another paperweight. Pens are useful, as are notebooks and gadgets, but if it’s going to be expensive jewellery, could the logo be easy to peel off, please?

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We’re living through these interesting times. All around us are clues to what comes next, some true, some false. Without hindsight or reliable fortune-telling, it’s very difficult to tell the difference. But shall we try?

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William Essex

William Essex

Writer, editor, publisher, Creative Director (seriously) at Climbing Tree Books (dot net). All views are my own. Mostly.

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