Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Don't call us: The public catches up with reporters' pleas

In the NPR story, Not-so-social media: Why people have stopped talking on phones, you may have missed a little echo of what reporters have been saying all along: Don't call us.

If we're talking millennials, they don't even want to leave voice messages. Baby boomers, used to the phone as a primary channel, have the toughest time breaking this habit, but a basic truth yearned for by reporters remains. From the story:
"I used to think the millennials were wrong about this, but it is an imposition to call someone and say put aside whatever you were doing and give me 30 minutes of your time," says Neil Howe, president of LifeCourse Associates, which consults with corporations about generational attitudes and behaviors. As Boyd points out, communication is a two-way street. Both parties in the pair have to agree to a plan. Fewer people are willing to engage in a phone conversation, which not only eats up more time than texting but has to be done in that very moment.
Both parties in the pair have to agree to a plan. Sounds like embargo-setting, among other transactions with reporters. I'll be the first to defend institutions' right to announce their own news, but when you assume agreement about your methods of disseminating news--whether it's a call to a consumer or one to a reporter--it's worth stopping to check those assumptions before you proceed.

It needs to be said that the idea of both parties agreeing to the mode of contact really should apply to everything else when you're in contact, from email to direct messages on Twitter. Need more ideas for what to do instead of a phone call? Check out how to pitch reporters on social media.

I'm launching a new workshop, Speechwriting for Communicators, in Washington, DC, on October 9. If you find yourself writing speeches, remarks and talking points, but have never learned how to do it, find out what you may have missed in this one-day session--including how to do more with boring speech occasions. Every participant gets an online toolkit of resources, too. You can save 15 percent by registering by August 29.

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