In my experience as a newspaper reporter, the best quotes came outside the boundaries of the “formal” interview. On the record whether they realized it or not, my interviewees were more relaxed and able to provide good material while waiting for the PR assistant to show up, or walking to the elevator when the interview was over.
This is a time-tested media technique we now call the “awkward silence.” You’ve answered a question, the reporter looks down at his or her notepad, but the next question doesn’t appear to be coming. Seconds feel like days, so you decide to break the silence. That’s when you’ll likely go off track and make a statement that doesn’t quite fit your plans for the story.
If you answered the question, you answered the question. No need to dilute it just to fill space, so part of your media training should include recognizing and knowing how to deal with this tactic. Better to stumble in your conference room during a private media training session vs. when the cameras are rolling.
One of my favorite blogs, “You Don’t Say,” by Sun copy desk chief John E. McIntyre, offers a preview of worn-out holiday cliches that editors and reporters – and press release writers – will be tempted to use in the coming weeks.
If you’re thinking of leading off your piece with “‘Tis the Season…” or “Yes, Virginia,” John has a news flash for you: we’ve seen it already. Same goes for “white stuff” (are you listening, AMS certified meteorologists?), “Christmas came early…” for good news stories and references to “The Grinch” in stories about holiday thefts. It’s a list worth reading (and checking twice).
Image: George Eastman Hous
Speaking at the June Knowledge Session sponsored by the Baltimore/Washington chapter of Sales & Marketing Executives International (SMEI), Craig K. Morris, managing attorney for trademark outreach at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, suggested that insights from an attorney could save a lot of time and expense in the long run.
“We need to remember that yes, this is a creative process, but it is also a legal process,” said Morris, who recently embarked on an awareness campaign on behalf of the USPTO to help companies understand the process and where to turn for help and information.
“You need to make sure that not only is your mark legally protectable, but that it’s also register-able and not infringing on someone else’s mark,” he said.
Begin with a search – is the mark (a word, phrase, symbol or design) already registered? Is the mark similar? Is there a likelihood of confusion? Are the goods and services related?
The USPTO website, www.uspto.gov, has instructional videos, fact sheets, FAQs and more, including the search system TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System) to view what has been registered in a company or client’s category.
Morris joined brand strategy and design expert Wendy Baird, principal and president, Insight180, Ellicott City, Md., who kicked off the session with a review of the name development and creative process undertaken by others at the table.
Founded in 1935, Sales & Marketing Executives International (SMEI) is the worldwide organization dedicated to ethical standards, continuing professional development, knowledge sharing, mentoring students and advancing free enterprise. For more information about the Baltimore/Washington chapter, visit www.smeibaltimore.org
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