26 Jun, 2020
Challengers, Disrupters and Contrarians
This informal CPD article on Challengers, Disrupters and Contrarians was provided by Brian Weatherley at B2B Media Training, an award-winning trade journalist, video presenter, business-to-business magazine editor and media trainer.
We’ve all come across them, the individuals or companies who don’t follow the herd, who aren’t thinking what you’re thinking, who are always heading in the other direction. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether they have a serious point to make, and one that’s worth paying attention to, or are just doing it for effect. Regardless of how you feel about them there’s no denying they tend to think ‘differently’ from everyone else… and that can make them attractive to the media.
Let’s face it we all suffer from story fatigue and start to lose interest when every section of the press runs the same story. It’s at that point editors ask: ‘Can’t we get a new angle on this?’ Enter the challengers, disrupters and contrarians. If you’re looking for someone to confront current thinking and rattle the status quo cage who better to talk to?
I’ve yet to meet a journalist who liked having their ‘knowledge’ questioned. Nor do they enjoy being told ‘You’ve missed the whole point of the story.’ It makes them wonder if they’ve overlooked another previously-hidden narrative. No journalist wants to admit they’ve been barking up the wrong tree. And by challenging a previously-accepted storyline the challengers, disrupters and contrarians make them think again.
Of course if you are planning to rock the media’s boat you’d better have something solid to back-up your challenge – like an independent survey, research data, official stats, or customer experiences. In short, not ‘spin’. Moreover, when it comes to engaging with the press the best disrupters, challengers and contrarians aren’t the ‘shouty’ ones—they’re the ones who make genuinely-interesting ‘left field’ points, calmly and with authority, and with irrefutable facts.
So can you make a journalist think twice? It’s not unusual for them to approach an interview with a preconceived idea of what the story is all about, and where it sits. They may even have the headline already written in their heads… But is that where the story really lies from your perspective? Have they actually got it right? And can you show them where they’ve missed the point – and prove it? If so, you’re more likely to get them to reconsider their position and report yours. Just remember though, if you tell a journalist ‘That’s not the world as we see it’ you’d better convince them you know better than they do. If you can, it could earn you media coverage when everyone else thought the story was yesterday’s news…
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