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Talking with Reporters

post # 340 — March 28, 2007 — a Careers, Client Relations post

Yesterday (March 27, 2007) I was (briefly) quoted in the Wall Street Journal in a story about whether or not your spouse is a good person to turn to for career advice.

But this blogpost is not about the content of that story. It’s about talking with reporters.

I’m a great believer in doing it out of courtesy, but unlike many of my professional firm clients, I don’t believe getting quoted is a particularly powerful marketing tactic. Yes, it was nice that my name appeared in print, and also that it was mentioned in passing that I was the co-author of The Trusted Advisor.

But experience has taught me that being quoted like this doesn’t really help promote my business or affect the likelihood of me getting hired.

Yet many financial service firms, consulting firms, accounting firms, law firms and so on spend quite a bit of time trying to get press coverage in places like the WSJ. Why? Is it really worth the effort and the money?

I’ll grant that a story ABOUT me might be powerful, but I have been lucky to have had my share of those, but it would be very hard to identify even a single enquiry hat came from press coverage. My family like to keep track of my clippings, and, embarrassing but true, I (still) get personal gratification from seeing my name in print.

But I think the marketing benefits of talking to journalists, and press coverage in general, are way over-rated for professional businesses.

Do you agree or disagree? Is there any hard evidence one way or the other?


Ben M. Schorr said:

Aloha David,

I tend to disagree. Being quoted in the paper, at least on a subject of relevence to my business, helps to establish me as an expert in the field. My clients and prospective clients who see that are suddenly reassured – “Wow, he’s such an expert that the media turns to him for his opinion, he must be the right guy for the job.”

I tend to agree that I can’t recall ever getting a new cold client from a press quote. However I can envision a scenario where I call on a new prospect and perhaps he recalls that he’s heard my name via media reports in the past and thus is more receptive to talking with me, than he might be if I was just some schmoe off the street he’s never heard of.

Just my $.02 – keep the change.


Ben M. Schorr

Chief Executive Officer

Roland Schorr & Tower

posted on March 28, 2007

Leo J. Bottary said:

This is a common misconception among clients, largely because of the way PR people explain it. Your quote in the WSJ won’t likely earn you one extra dollar or win you one new client – on its own that is. It can be effective; however, when combined with everything else you do to sell your services and to reinforce your “trusted advisor” status among current clients. If someone doesn’t know you, it helps your credibility if he/she can recall reading about you in a prominent newpaper or business publication. Consider all that you do to build and sustain your practice – books, blogs, podcasts, lectures, WSJ quotes…

posted on March 28, 2007

Linas Simonis said:

Being quoted in the paper did not matters.

Matters being quoted in the paper on your expertise area.

PR is the key to brand building. For your personal brand too.

Once again: being quoted on YOUR EXPERTISE AREA.

posted on March 28, 2007

James Mittler said:

My experience and comments by Allan Weiss (spelling ?) would suggest that it is nice to see our names in print, but a direct link to billable work is highly unlikely. Many years ago I had the occasion to meet and talk with Allan Weiss. Having just had my first article printed in a national magazine I mentioned that I had expected more reaction to the article. Allan’s comment was “you didn’t expect to get any work from having that article printed did you?” When I said “yes” he told me that I sould never expect work as a result of my writing, but writing was something that I should continue to do as many people believed that if you were published you had more crediability, so I have continued to publish over the years.

posted on March 28, 2007

Stephen Downes said:

My experience is that career success is independent of press coverage. A single newspaper article doens;t generally have a large enough readership to be a factor.

posted on March 28, 2007

Stuart Blake said:

I agree that talking with reporters and being quoted in an article is not only good for your ego but can also be part of a greater PR strategy to position yourself as an expert in your field. In my experience, it is not very likely alone to bring in new business but should be combined with writing articles or books, public speaking engagements, press releases and writing a blog. While none of these alone may draw in new clients, the combination of all of these may help to successfully position you as an expert in your field and create enough awareness to bring in new business.

posted on March 28, 2007

David (Maister) said:

I’m with Stephen on this one. A single article or quote does nothing – even occasional quotes do nothing. It only begins to work when it’s frequent and regular – which is a whole different level of accomplishment and one that rarely happens to most professionals. Which is why I conclude that it’s a low probability and low priority tactic for most individuals and firms.

I am not persuaded by the “part of the mix” argument if it involves effort and money. I think both could be more effectively spent in other ways.

posted on March 28, 2007

Marcel Goldstein said:

David, ironically, your March 16, 2007 blog post, “Lead Generation Tactics” provided the “hard evidence” already. You cited the report from RainToday.com as follows:

“The most effective mix of tactics reported were ‘warm’ phone calls to existing contacts, speaking at conferences, running the firm’s own in-person events, becoming members of an industry association and (most surprising to me) connecting with the press to gain PR.”

Great client service plus the above tactics, including press, builds reputations—the essential ingredient for professional service firm growth and stronger valuations.


posted on March 29, 2007

David (Maister) said:

Well spotted, Marcel. But you know what? The Rain Today report was the summary of the opinions of the firm marketers, and (cynic that I am) I suspect that there was more “opinion” than hard experience there. I think that, as a group, marketers are no less likely to have their biases than the rest of us.

But, I’m willing to concede that I’m in the minority on this one.

posted on March 29, 2007

Antony said:

I agree with Linas, it’s all part of personal brand building. I am a lawyer, was quoted in the WSJ on a matter relating to my field of work, and in the following week had several different clients say to me, “Saw you in the WSJ the other day!” Sure it didn’t lead to any new work, but it certainly contributed to building profile and brand recognition – every little bit helps! And it didn’t require any money, nor any great amount of effort.

posted on March 29, 2007

Howie said:

Being quoted in a paper is not so bad, especially if it didn’t cost you a cent and if it didn’t put you in a way of degrading your self esteem. I consider it as an advantage because it’s an exposure. People will get to know you and will recognize your work.

However, I don’t think it’s worth the money to be quoted in a paper. It only shows that you are desperate. I believe that our skill are enough to find the right people for us to serve.

posted on March 29, 2007

Sheryl Schelin said:

I’d have to disagree. Perhaps in the rarefied air of consulting it doesn’t do much to bring in bacon. But down here in the hinterlands and the salt mines (OK, enough) – in smaller cities and towns it absolutely helps to establish a name for one’s self in one’s practice area. If I am quoted in the local paper as an expert in bankruptcy or consumer law, for instance, the local citizens who read that article may or may not pick up the phone and call me. But the chances are greater than if I’m not quoted. And by creating that air of expertise, I help the entire package of my marketing efforts. I think that’s where many solos and small firm lawyers (and probably other professionals too) get mixed up – in expecting immediate, direct ROI.

posted on March 29, 2007

David J said:

Several comments here are, I think, right on. I’ll add one or two more thoughts

– Being quoted as an expert adds to the perception of your value as a professional. It’s value is indirect, but not insubstantial.

– Being quoted should be part (but not the whole) of a communications effort to build, fix or enhance a reputation.

— Being quoted in well-read media is vitally important to building your Google resume’ (meaning, what searchers find when they Google your name before returning your call or confirming that introductory meeting with you). Google is no longer a search engine. It is a reputation management tool.

posted on March 29, 2007

Richard Noble said:

Combination of research supported by personal or anecdotal evidence, coughs up these points of ermm… I guess wisdom:

Exposure in the media and through events, press releases, quotations etc can be good for building awareness as well as providing “positioning” for your self and organizations..

They are a darn site cheaper than direct advertising and can build in the added credibility of the media that is quoting you. Most people believe that the author is applying some critical assessment prior to using your quote or printing your position… not always the case… but there you go.

Awareness and positioning can then lead to a reduction in the cost of selling though not always directly to identifying and securing individual sales opportunities.

None of this adds any value if its not done well…(Sorry for the double negative.) To do it well you generally need hel

posted on March 29, 2007

Irene said:

I agree. Taking the high road can sometimes hurt you. Luck will not be on your side all the time. It’s better to be safe down low where success is based on your own strengths and sacrifices.

posted on March 30, 2007

James Cherkoff said:

I’ve found writing articles in papers creates zero leads but gives clients a helpful reassurance factor. But it’s worth remembering that journalists themselves are highly networked individuals and can spread the word about you and your services, even if they don’t write about you.

posted on March 30, 2007

Andrew Smith said:

An isolated quote probably isn’t going to result in a boat load of sales enquiries. But generating many of these over time absolutely goes towards building credibility with key audiences. Also, it doesn’t take into account how that quote can be used in other marketing activity – even if prospects and customers don’t see the original article, nothing to stop you using links to these articles on our own website, DM, advertising, etc. One shouldn’t fall into the trap of considering PR in isolation. Although one quote in itself may not be do the trick, how you maximise its usage certainly can.

posted on March 30, 2007

Bob Zender said:

I bought my first Maister book after I read your name in a trade newsletter. The article was discussing a different author and how his work would rank among the best in the field, “like David Maister.” I asked myself, who is this Maister guy? That led to The Trusted Advisor and then First Among Equals and then this website.

I was so taken by the book that I asked my supervisor if I could present the principles of The Trusted Advisor to my group. That lead to the purchase of 23 copies of The Trusted Advisor for our company. This year the book became an official part of our professional training program. And just today my supervisor emailed a link to one of your videocasts. David Maister is now front and center for how we train our managers.

This all started with a brief mention of your name in an industry trade, read by a newcomer to his industry eager to learn. Why did the editor of the newsletter include your name in an article about someone else? Because you positioned yourself in the marketplace as an expert through sustained conversations with media of all stripes.

You have stayed well ahead of the curve and have adopted new tools to maintain your position as expert – podcasts, videocasts, blogs, all excellent – this is the future and the future is now. But don’t discount the dividends paid through your relationships with the media during your career.

posted on March 31, 2007

David (Maister) said:

My appreciation to Bob, and everyone else who has contributed here. This topic seemed to have caused some reaction (perhaps because most of you thought I mis-spoke intially?) Ah, well, at least I kept the conversation going!

posted on March 31, 2007

Nancy said:

I agree. Lots of people didn’t succeed over a good publicity. Most of the people who appeared in press coverages are already successful. That’s probably why their money is worthed for the activity.

posted on April 2, 2007