Like Talking To A Snake

April 16, 2010 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

You know a snake has ears, at least you think it does. I mean, why wouldn’t it? So, if you’re making eye contact with the snake, and seem to have its attention, it should listen to you, right?

Not necessarily. Communicating with snakes is a challenge, unless you’re Harry Potter. Similarly, communicating with journalists can be a challenge, too. (Full disclosure: I love snakes. So don’t read any negative “media members are snakes” references into this!)

Just because it's making eye contact, that doesn't mean it's listening.

For effective communication, you just have to know where the ears are. (Snakes, by the way, have no outer ear. They pick up sound waves through vibrations which are processed by the tiny snake brain.) Knowing that, you’ll communicate much more effectively with our ground-slithering friends.

So how about journalists? If you spend much time listening to “experts” on Twitter, you’d think journalists lived there and that you need to get media members to follow you for effective PR and marketing communication. I spend a good deal of time listening, searching and reading on Twitter, and am often lead to believe that e-mail is dead, as is the traditional press release. The only way to speak with journalists, then, is to somehow get them to follow you on Twitter, or to comment on their blogs until they notice you.

But I met some journalists recently who aren’t even on Twitter (yet). Or they set up an account and “really haven’t done much with it” (yet). These were journalists with credentials, real members of the media with bylines and everything. And they still use e-mail.

So know that I know where their ears are, I know how to communicate with them. I’ve reached out to other journalists who are completely into Facebook, or even Still others might uses SMS. And one or two actually speak on the telephone to this day. It’s true.

I’m an e-mail guy myself, but am also using Twitter more and more. Most importantly, I realize that to most effectively talk to a snake, I have to know how they hear.


Entry filed under: Communications, journalism, Social Media, Writing. Tags: , , , , .

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