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Want the Media's Attention? 
The secret is simple: Say something!
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 by John P. David
David & Garcia PR

John DavidWhile having a drink (bourbon) with a reporter from a major national news outlet (The Wall Street Journal), the discussion turned to the top guy at a company that is one of our newest clients. 

The executive is well positioned to comment on one of the biggest business stories of the year (the subprime meltdown). I mentioned to the journalist that we were still getting to know our client, but my gut was telling me that our guy could be an excellent source for the Journal.

My journalist friend then said, in a very frank manner, the following (paraphrasing): "So you haven't gotten hold of him yet and turned him into a lifeless spewer of self-serving drivel." I laughed because our guy, thankfully, remains pure; and then I cried because so many other executives fail in the PR game because they refuse to say anything meaningful.

Corporate America is becoming a nation of drivel spewers. National business reporters are usually very smart individuals with high degrees of intellectual curiosity. Most have access to incredible amounts of data regarding the industries they cover and are typically well-informed. They also have long memories, don't mind phoning regulators/government officials and, in general, have a low tolerance for BS. 

What they want more than anything is reliable insight. In other words, they want their sources to say something meaningful, true and authentic. Sounds simple enough but it really appears to be in short supply. Journalists are searching far and wide for those who are willing to speak the truth about important topics.

Here are my top three tips for building relationships with the national press:

  • Can the canned speech. Fetishes aside, nobody wants smoke blown up their behind. Sources need to have clear message points and be prepared when speaking with the media, but real opinions and verifiable facts will trump the spin every time. Lead with the truth about your business or industry and you will be on your way.

  • Banish the gods of fear. Speak with authority and conviction; don't be afraid to speak your mind about issues that are important to your industry. Quotes with a measurable level of emotion will stand out. Too often, sources fear their strong words might do damage.

  • Help by "trendspotting," or better yet, "scoopspotting." Journalists love to identify the next big trend. Want a journalist to remember you, help them out by letting them know which way your industry is turning/heading. Further, if you can offer up a real nugget of unreported news (a scoop), you will have a friend for a long time.

John P. David has more than 18 years of experience in the public relations industry, serving Florida-based and national clients. For more information, contact him at or visit

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