My mother used to say “if you don’t toot your own horn, nobody else will toot it for you.”
What she meant was that if you’re not the one telling everyone how great you are, then the world might not notice at all.
It’s turned out to be pretty solid advice.
I had an interesting meeting this week with the leaders of an important local business. They were concerned about how to make sure to get their story out to the public, but they weren’t quite sure how best to go about it.
I handed them my business card and told them to email me. They were extremely polite and said they really hated to bother me. They promised not to block up my email with information.
Quite the contrary, I said – please do fill up my mailbox. That’s the best way to make sure your name is out there, your perspective is heard, and your story gets told.
In theory, I suppose, news organizations should cover everyone exactly equally, and we do make efforts to seek out the powerless and dispossessed to make sure their stories don’t get overwhelmed by the louder voices of the powerful or famous.
But for everyone in between, we need a little help, particularly in these days of tight staffing and limited resources in the newsroom.
What I want is for these business leaders to toot their own horn. And I want that from the rest of you, too.
There is only a handful of us in the newsroom and tens of thousands of you out there, with interesting stories, important missions, quirky histories, and all kinds of important news to share. Unless one of our reporters is lucky enough to bump into you somewhere, however, we have no way of knowing all that interesting stuff.
Unless, of course, you pick up the phone or crank out an email to tell us about it.
I can’t always promise we can use what you’ll tell us. We don’t always have the time or staff to tell a story, and sometimes a story is, for one reason or another, not exactly right for our audience. But I do promise I will do my best and be honest with you if a story just isn’t working for us.
I’d much rather have 10 tips we just don’t have the time to follow than miss one really great story because nobody thought to tell us about it.
In that spirit, I will make the same offer to all of you that I made to these business leaders: Please call or email whenever you have a bit of news, a story idea, an observation or just want to let us know what’s going on. Maybe nothing will come of it, but maybe it will turn into a really great story, or just help us understand our community a little better.
So please drop us a line. Let us know what’s going on out there. Be sure to include your name and a way to contact you. Tell us what’s interesting about your story (it helps if there is some good hook to hang it on: Is this the first, the last, the biggest, the best or the worst?).
Send details. Send pictures. Send videos. Be persistent – we don’t mind if you follow up to see if we got your message. That’s exactly why we publish our phone numbers and emails in the paper every day.
In other words, please don’t be shy about tooting your own horn. If you don’t, nobody else will do it for you.