Tuesday, February 5, 2008

GCN's Old School Journalist

Bill Jackson is refreshingly old school. The senior writer and “Cyber Eye” columnist for trade magazine Government Computer News considers his job well done when he produces a thorough and accurate article. Bill’s focus is his readers, and he takes pride in providing them with information, analysis and insight that helps them do their job better.

Unlike many influential journalists, Bill maintains cordial relationships with PR executives. It is all about the story for Bill and if an excellent idea originates from a public relations pitch than so be it.

With that in mind, Bill stopped by Strategic Communications Group’s (Strategic) office in January to visit with our staff. His 45 minute talk and Q&A session provided insight into how companies can effectively position their products and services for inclusion in his stories.

Here are a few of Bill’s suggestions:

-Read the publication. Know his areas of interest (communications, networking and security). And clearly explain how government customers benefit from using the product. Bill is amazed by the number of PR people who merely Email press releases with little thought to who they’re sending to.

-While Email is his preferred means of contact, Bill acknowledges he only opens about two percent of the 200 plus Emails he receives a day. Make the subject line interesting and get to the point quickly in the first few sentences of a pitch.

-A customer willing to talk on the record about how they use the product makes the story. Other sources Bill will consider for validation include industry analysts and recognized subject matter experts, such as BT Counterpane’s Bruce Schneier for issues related to network security.

-When it comes to an interview, his best advice is never make a comment you would not want to see in the magazine.

Interested in more insight from Bill’s visit to Strategic? Check out my colleague Chris Parente’s take in his “Work, Wine and Wheels” blog:


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