Week 178

On the effects – or lack thereof – of a classic media mention.

Look, Mum, I’m in a newspaper.

It wasn’t the first time I could say that, but at this point I both have a better understanding of what that means and how I value a mention by a classic media outlet like the Berliner Morgenpost.

How did the story came about?

It’s one of those things that don’t make sense until they happen.

My post on startups and Berlin wasn’t just well received by the tech community. A friend of mine who worked at that time for the World Economic Forum saw it too and asked me, if I would contribute something along those lines for their blog post. It took some time, but a few days before the rich and mighty gathered in Davos, my post went online.

A few days later, as we are watching with interest how one of our themes is being discussed at the Forum, a journalist asked about an interview, assuming I was in Davos. After clearing that up, she surprisingly remained interested. The journalist in question, Viktoria Solms, said that she looked at our site and developed an interest portraying us for the local business section of the Morgenpost.

Flattered, but also curious as to what had made her want to talk to us, I agreed. A few days later, Johannes and I sat down with her at our office and talked for 90 minutes. The result: a big, splashy portray by a daily Berlin newspaper.

Expectation management

Now, while everybody decrying the death of print and classic news publishers, there is something ingrained into our cultural DNA that makes people’s mind pop when they see either themselves or people they know in a newspaper. Nobody cares at that point how many people have seen and read the whole thing. It’s in a newspaper and that still means something.

It does mean something, but usually not what most people expect or think.

Let’s start with what is usually not happening after a media mention from our experience:

  • Nobody will call you and tell you that they saw a report on you in the newspaper and now they want to give you money to do some amazing project. Media mentions do not generate direct leads.
  • You will also most likely not see a spike in traffic on your website or a rush of new followers on twitter. That applies both to a mention in print and online.1
  • You will not learn what people think about that article unless you promote the existence of the article in your network.

Which brings us to what an article like that usually does for you.

  • Such an article is a nice, sharable object. It’s easy to share, people like to see and interact with it. You usually score a significant amount of likes for it on your Facebook or LinkedIn profile.
  • It is a fantastic way get back into the attention, refresh everybody’s memory about your work and / or projects.
  • Usually it’s also helpful to reconnect with some older acquaintances and looser part of your network. They tend to react to media mentions in a fairly strong way.

Now you know what it means when you tell your mother that her kid is mentioned in a newspaper.

(To be honest, I didn’t even mentioned it to my mum. She just liked our companies Facebook page and saw our post in her news stream.)

So, if you like that article and know someone who could be interested in our work, please consider sending them a link to the online version or the pdf.

  1. Newspapers and journalists design their product in a way that prevents you from wanting to know more beyond what the article or the outlets provide on that topic. The assumption is that it’s the sole responsibility of those outlets to inform the people. That’s a logical flaw and one that hinders publishers significantly