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How to make friends with the media

The media is a mysterious, and even frightening contact to a person who is above all an expert in his or her own field. A phone call from a journalist can push you far beyond your comfort zone, and “the media” may feel like an unknown threat that wants to hurt you. However, there is no reason for fear. When a story is initiated, it is created as a collaboration between two human beings: a journalist and an interviewee. So how to cope with the situation?

Firstly, you are most likely contacted, because you have competence and knowledge for something. Be proud of yourself and your skills, but remember that you know much more than the journalist. Don´t expect him to ask all the relevant questions, but do a favor and offer the best part of your knowledge in a clear and comprehensible package.

Secondly, dare to have your personality included. That brings the pure facts and figures to life, and tempts the reader to read the whole story. As Matti Apunen aptly says it in his lecture: “You need to be a person, not just a phone number in press release”. Be kind and patient and treat the journalist as a friend, not an enemy.

Thirdly, remember also to respect the journalist and his professionalism. You provide the bits and pieces of the content, but he is the professional on storytelling. Let him to do his job: You can correct the clear misunderstandings and errors but must not criticize his storytelling. To this you can contribute by being the best possible and cooperative interviewee.

Finally, it makes the situation easier if you remember that the journalist also aims to do his or her job as well as possible. You both want as many readers as possible for the story and that it tells clearly and attractively about the chosen topic. After all, the goal is common: the best and most read story ever.

- Mikko Uuskoski

DI / MSc (Eng.) / Doctoral Candidate Managing Director, Beckhoff Automation Oy

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