Noisy, eerily quiet, paranoid, competitive, secretive, fun, deadly serious and downright bizarre. Some of the words to describe the atmosphere in the newsroom of a national or international media outlet.
Time takes on new dimensions in a newsroom. The story that absolutely HAS to be aired/published in the next hour is, at that moment in time, THE single most important thing that is happening on planet earth right now. Tomorrow? Meh, who cares?
There’s no other environment I know where something, or someone, can go from being so utterly important to so relatively meaningless in such an insanely short period of time.
In my former life as a journalist (Daily Mirror and The Independent) I witnessed this neck-breaking, handbrake turn culture on a daily basis. It’s exhilarating, and at times bewildering. This is where I learnt how to write a press release a reporter would love – because I got so many!
Why does this matter to you as a startup?
Firstly, speed. If you want to get noticed by the media you need to be first and fast as often as possible. Your issue could be newsworthy today but in 24 hours (or far less) that news ship can have sailed.
Secondly, hurt. Whatever happens, don’t take it personally. Reporters may be blunt with you. They might promise you that ‘your story is definitely going to run’ but then suddenly drop it. News is a very fluid business and sometimes you can go from front page to ‘spike’ in seconds. I’ve seen it happen . . . a lot. I’m telling you this so you don’t get down hearted and give up after getting burnt on your first PR outing. Stick at it. Eventually, you will get noticed.
Thirdly, accuracy. I can see you rolling your eyes and tutting, “yeah right, the media care about facts, pull the other one!” Well actually yes, it does, BIG time. Imagine how much information the UK nationals are processing on a daily basis, and the speed at which the news agenda is moving. Have a guess how much they get wrong. Answer. Not a lot. You must ensure that your story is full of facts and accurate. Waste a hack’s precious time with waffle and half truths and you won’t get another chance.
The newsroom can be an unforgiving environment. By all means, dive in, but know the rules of the game and you’ll fare far better than those that blunder in thinking they’re calling just another office.
You really aren’t. Newsrooms are weird…and wonderful.