02 July, 2010

learning a lot

I've been drinking from the fire hydrant again. Too many lessons learned to summarize all here, but a couple of highlights I don't want to forget:

  • Submit records requests for correspondence to ALL parties involved in the exchanges. That will help keep everybody honest and ensure nobody's burying the inconvenient parts of the conversation.
  • E-mail people — in advance, as follow-up, or just to plain get their attention if they're not returning your calls. I know they told us in J-school not to do this, but it helps prepare your sources for your phone calls. They're better prepared with answers for your questions, and it makes for higher-quality conversations almost every single time. Also, an e-mail, unlike a voicemail, continues sitting there as a reminder that they need to respond.
  • BE. TEACHABLE. I don't know even half of everything. Every suggestion or critique is an opportunity to learn.
  • Don't be afraid of people questioning you.
  • Be tenacious. Follow up, follow up, follow up, and get people's cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
  • Sit down face-to-face with key sources. Have lunch or coffee. Get to know them, let them get to know you and just talk story. It's better to establish solid relationships before you need something from them. They'll be more likely to help you later on. And you can get tons of story ideas from this practice.
OK, got lots to do today still — 4:10 p.m. on a Friday before a four-day weekend. Oy.

08 June, 2010