OLD Media Moves

Private equity investor: Biz journalists can be your friends

August 20, 2013

Posted by Chris Roush

Luke Johnson, who runs a private equity firm, writes on Tuesday’s Financial Times about how those in his field should talk more to business journalists.

Johnson writes, “Journalists will very rarely simply push the angle you want. They often approach a business story from a sceptical view. Inevitably, they want the personal element in any article – they are probably more interested in your house, car and net worth than the products you are trying to promote.

“Every profile is a trade-off: information you are willing to share against coverage they are willing to devote to your business. Ultimately, the writer and their editor decide what goes in the piece. And never think you can manipulate a journalist to print your version of the truth: competent ones will cross-check the facts.

“Many captains of industry assume the press are their enemy. In fact the opposite can be the case. Sir Richard Branson has always assiduously courted journalists and his activities have, in my opinion, been reported in a friendly way as a consequence. Indeed, positive appearances in the media have been a vital way of building the Virgin brand.

“Often I am rung up because a journalist has heard a rumour about an acquisition we might be about to make. Usually I come out with a bland response such as, ‘We never comment on market rumours,’ whatever the truth of the suggestion. Occasionally, one feels obliged to offer more, for good or bad reasons. You can talk off the record or on an unattributable basis, and all respectable writers will honour that curious code. Inevitably, if you help a reporter they are more likely to give your side of events a sympathetic airing.”

Read more here.

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