Thinking Beyond the Inside Point of View

by Michael Drew on February 26, 2016

Michael Drew · Creativity in Business · February 26, 2016

Pendulum in Action, creativity in business, readers, marketersThe press loves nothing better than to talk about itself. This is natural – most industries talk mainly about themselves. In the film industry for example, the Oscars are pretty much insider awards that have garnered much more attention than they’re worth because they involve movie stars. Without star power, the Academy Awards would be just another ceremony where an industry congratulates itself. Most industries talk more to each other than to the people who make their industry possible: the clients or the customers.

I see a lot of articles in newspapers discussing the state of newspapers – such as a recent one looking at how the new Bloomberg’s editor-in-chief John Micklethwait has done after a year in the position. The story is mainly of interest to journalists, yet it was a recent lead article in the business section of the New York Times. Most readers who are non-journalists would probably not have read the article. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have appeared – how organizations gather and disseminate news is important, especially today, when so many conflicting interests vie to be heard, and the truth can be elusive. But for people at a newspaper, how another news organization is faring is perhaps more important than it is for people outside a newspaper.

Most industries talk to themselves rather than to the people they serve, that is, the larger public. One of my colleagues worked for a long time at the Wall Street Journal, and he tells me how often it seemed that what made the front page was simply what interested the other editors, as if they knew better than anyone what constituted something worthy of the public’s attention. They served as gatekeepers of news, rather than as impartial observers letting others know what was going on in the world.

In way, that means that they were trying to control the story – as anyone does, even without being aware of it, by writing on a subject. You can’t lose your personal point of view, no matter how hard you think you’re trying to remain impartial.

But for people in business and in marketing, who are naturally interested in telling their own story to sell their products and services, it isn’t necessary to be impartial. But it’s imperative to think beyond what’s happening within the company, to what’s important to the people the company serves. Most people ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?” or they ask, “Why should I care?” Those are questions that editors want reporters to answer when putting a story together. It’s also essential that marketers answer those questions for their customers. Otherwise they just talk to themselves. And that’s a strategy for going nowhere.

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