Size does matter...
When it comes to impressing a journalist, the size of your company has very little to do with anything.
Imagining that they give two hoots that your revenue number has doubled and that you now lead the market in terms of size will probably get you a polite yawn at best. Being of interest though – giving that golden nugget of information that stands you apart from all the other briefings the journalist will hear that day – will get you column inches. And that’s the only place where size should matter!
In reality, the journalist and their publication is exactly the same animal, whether you are one-man band or a FTSE listed gigantathon. They have a readership to impress with the next best thing or a new solution to an age-old problem. If you are able to give them that gem of an article to write, then they’ll write it. And it doesn’t stop there either. You may think they worry that the client you tell them about has to be huge too – but indeed the complete opposite can often be true.
Why? Thought leadership is often the voice of the small ‘pretender’ because larger corporates can lose sight of the market and who their real customer is as they focus on shareholders and shareholder value. Combine this with an often burgeoning ‘corporate communications’ department – a.k.a the ‘brand police’ – and actually getting anything meaningful out of a larger company (or larger client of a company) can be a long, arduous and often fruitless exercise.
That’s why being small, agile and beautifully formed can often make you a journalist’s best friend. Being there and available at the end of a phone, email or, increasingly, social media, and willing to give an opinion on a thorny issue or a hot topic, can provide a journalist with that invaluable and exclusive quote that validates an argument and enhances an article. Better still, being able to court the journalist with an opinion proactively, sets you apart from the crowd and turns you into a very valuable source. One that is more likely to be used than someone sealed in an air-tight corporate structure, bound up in red tape and constrained by large company guidelines, who is just too difficult to get a hold of quickly. Timeliness and bravado should be your weapons of choice here.
Getting the basics right also helps. Having prepared a set of topics that you can talk to and, more importantly, have formed an opinion on – can make you an easy-to-access tool for the journalist that saves them time and gets them closer to helping delineate their publication and give their next story real cut-through.
Sure, tell the journalist you are being successful with your message, and give them proof points with happy clients willing to support your cause with statements that maintain your assertions as to the shape of the world. But never forget that they are far more interested in the message and your clients than they are in you. And more to the point, they’ll be delighted that you prefer to spend more time talking about an issue that’s relevant to their readership, than boasting sales growth that is only really relevant to you.
So size really does matter – but not in the way you might have thought. Small can often be beautiful. In fact, being overly proud of being big can really work against you…