You may have already read a blog post or two today on last night’s panel discussion, BBQ and party called “The Naked Truth,” but I thought I’d elaborate on the night’s events.
The panel, consisting of reporters and bloggers, was intended to enlighten the technology startup crowd on the unwritten rules of dealing with the media. It was sponsored by Redfin and Madrona Venture Group.
The event, held at Havana Social Club, a hip, cavernous bar on Capitol Hill, went fairly well. The panel was outside in the parking lot, where a massive BBQ pit was cooking up ribs. (I heard the ribs were OK, but the sides were great). Afterwards, people went inside the bar to mingle.
The panel members consisted of myself, Becky Buckman of The Wall Street Journal, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, Fred Vogelstein of Wired and John Cook of the P-I. Greg Gottesman, a VC from Madrona, moderated.
We had a fairly lively discussion and people in the crowd asked a lot of good questions.
You can see Redfin’s summary of the night’s events here. CEO Glenn Kelman also vows to post the video there soon, so I won’t bore you with a back-and-forth on how the questions went down.
But I thought I’d share a little on how the event came together.
Glenn called me a few weeks ago to see if I would participate. He said the idea was hatched when he told his investor, Madrona, that startups shouldn’t waste money hiring PR firms and should handle all the calls to reporters themselves. He said Madrona didn’t agree — that you could make some major mistakes this way.
So they figured the best way to settle the debate was to have the media tell it like it is to the hundreds of entrepreneurs willing to listen.
I think part of the problem, though, comes in trying to generalize. All of our answers were different. What works for local media doesn’t work for The Wall Street Journal, and what works for a magazine doesn’t necessarily jive with a blog.
An Expedia PR employee brought up an interesting point afterwards that should help everyone in dealing with reporters.
Do your research. Read the reporter’s articles from the past year and tailor your pitch to what he or she seems to be interested in — that will reap major rewards.
And, finally, my two-cent contribution: Be honest. If you’ve never talked to a reporter before, it’s OK. Admit it and ask the person how to approach, how to proceed and what we are looking for. If you have a good story, you’ll get the time.
Any other questions?
Don’t hesitate to ask.