My blog posting yesterday on tips and tricks for CIOs to get themselves noted by the media prompted a few emails so I've fleshed out (dread phrase) a few of these suggestions:
Social networking. I mentioned the importance of blogs and Twitter in the previous post. Perhaps the final part of the trifecta is LinkedIn or maybe another contact network such as Plaxo. For all of the above, it certainly helps if you tag yourself in the most obvious, SEO-friendly ways. For example, to find a new contact in a an expert area, I might search social media for the word 'CIO' or the term 'IT director' then whatever the area I'm seeking comment on. If you've been trying too hard, you might have written a biography along the lines of 'Yo! What's up? I'm a self-starting datacentre-centred 'netrepreneur' who *gets* tech cadence but also knows how to create a nexus between geeks and the C-suite chain of command'. So you'd miss useful connections - and, obviously, everybody would think you're a prat. It helps if you can add a mini CV. If you've been unlucky enough to live through years of ERP development hell or you're an expert in making telepresence videoconferencing work or your boss was Bill Gates, for xxxx's sake say so. You earned those scars, now make them work for you.
Ideas. Lots of people think that an idea for a feature might be something like 'The CIO needs to be more than a tech-savvy nerd. He must understand the importance of aligning with business.' The problem is that about 99 per cent of CIOs would agree with this so what's the point in publishing it if you're just delivering coals to Newcastle? If, on the other hand, you say, 'I feel quite the opposite: that the business must learn to align with new technology opportunities', editors would wake up from their usual soporific state and be interested. Or maybe you think that CIOs can learn a lot by spending 15 minutes a day studying the poetry of the English Romantics, or you know how to build a new business's infrastructure without spending a red cent on Microsoft products. It's the old thing, isn't it? Dog bites man is a predictable narrative development. Man bites dog has the surprise element (even if both participants may be barking). If your concept is a bit out there, that's fine. Journalists exhausted by writing the same old drivel for years on end will be like Zoe Ball - all ears.
Reaching out. Social networking is all very well but it has a couple of issues. Number one, it doesn't involve a lot of human interaction. Number two, it doesn't involve any beer. Make an effort to meet breathing, sentient media people and note what makes them interested. Pay them a free compliment by having read one of their stories and taken note of the mission statement or similar of the magazine/website that employs them so that you're not way off beam. Tell them stuff you know and don't be too risk-averse. If you tell them something is for their ears only, they won't want to burn their contact with you - and anyway you can anonymise the juicy stuff to be safe. Give them enough and journalists are like the proverbial on your shoe -- once they've got you in their contact books they're a bugger to shake off.
Inform your own PR/marketing department. OK, so you need strong opinions but going against company policy could be a sackable offence so make sure you've got some buy-in and a basic agreement before you start.
Value your media network. Tony Blair. Sir Richard Branson. Cheggers. Lots of people get a long way in life through a gift for self-publicity and worryingly little else. It doesn't even matter particularly if you don't think much of the journalists themselves. They are your free lunch to building awareness. Think of them as connectors or useful ciphers if you will - but do think of them.
Work at it. Just because some scrofulous kid fresh out of the newly minted University of Canvey Island screwed up the piece he wrote about you doesn't mean the rest will be as bad. You have to risk it for a biscuit, as cricket captains used to say of making declarations. And the biscuit is very tasty indeed: recognition from peers, a proud department and maybe a golden next move.