Have you heard?! Quality writing doesn’t matter anymore. Not to hiring editors. Not to PR peddlers. Not to a lot of consumers.
In my experience as a member of the media — albeit a brief six-plus years — it’s discouraging that the journalism landscape has become overrun with slideshow “articles” and “top-10 reasons why...” pieces.
In spite of this reality, as a storyteller, I am very fortunate to have met Influential people in media and editors at highly-visible publications (all will remain nameless). However, virtually every one of them has confessed some version of the following to me:
To paraphrase...“You can be the most amazing writer, and secure the best interviews, but if you don’t have a huge social media following, none of it matters.”
While I always get different answers about what constitutes a “huge” following, I constantly wonder — is this true?
Have the values of hiring editors and PR hustlers disintegrated so much that their idea of what readers want to consume is solely based on a writer’s following, shallow content and a “click bait” headline?
Perhaps nobody cares about a good story anymore. But I do. And I know that puts me in the minority.
Yet, I don’t ignore the social media aspect of journalism, I just refuse to trade in quality writing for cookie-cutter articles with the purpose of creating pseudo controversy.
I’ll leave you with this.
Ever wonder why you can remember events in history, but not always the dates? Simple. Because our brains process stories better than facts.
So if you’re looking for a great storyteller, contact me!
Everybody has a story. And I've poured thousands of hours into drawing such stories out of my clients and subjects. The one constant they all have in common? Hard work and talent often has very little to do with who they are and where they are today.
I recently heard two examples that reinforced this to me, which I thought I'd share with you.
One came in the form of a question issued by President Obama.
The other was a statement made by WFAN Sports Radio's Steve Somers.
President Obama — informally sitting opposite David Letterman on the comedian's new Netflix show — pressed the former Late Night host about whether he'd ever asked himself, "Man, am I lucky?" Adding context to the question, the President explained how he's heard countless people attribute their success to hard work and talent, but that he always found that reasoning to be a bit hollow. And I agree. Many people work tirelessly and are talented, but never make it. What the president was trying to draw out of Letterman was whether he felt that an element of chance/serendipity was involved in his success. And Letterman told a story that illustrated how he has been nothing but lucky his whole life, which he preceded by telling the President that this was the biggest thing he is struggling with in his life right now. It was a profound example of how luck and circumstance can shape someone. More importantly, I learned more about Letterman in that moment than I had reading or listening to interviews he gave about his professional successes the past thirty years.
Steve Somers — the longest tenured radio host on New York's famed WFAN Sports Radio station — is known to listeners simply as, "The Schmooze." He often drips with wit, uncanny metaphors, wildly funny misdirections and satire. Somers is the voice of the people, in this writer's humble opinion. Well, one night a young caller identified himself as an aspiring sports journalist, and sought the Schmooze's advice about how to make it. Somers offered a lot of thoughtful positive reinforcement, and urged the young man to not let all the "no's" he'd inevitably hear along the way break his spirit. And what began as advice for this young man, turned into a story of Somers' personal journey. Then he said something that resonated with me. "I’ve been in work signing an autograph and out of work signing an unemployment check." That singular statement made me think about President Obama's theory — there has to be an element of chance involved in a person's success. It just can't solely be hard work and talent. It just can't be.
So, what's your story?
Ready to dive deeper than just plain old examples of hard work and talent?
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