I first learned the importance of facts at Francine LeBlanc’s birthday party. 20 of us—all seven year old girls—played telephone. You know, the game where you whisper a sentence into the ear of the person next to you and she passes it on. At the end, you compare the first missive to the last.
Even at seven, I could grasp the shock of how a simple line could be so twisted (I think it’s also what swore me off gossip).
Facts—once they run through another person’s filters—can get distorted.
The bastions of traditional media know this. That’s why they fact check their stories before publishing/airing. It’s why the big networks work during Presidential debate broadcasts to report the factual errors (and license taken) by each side before sign-off.
But not every “media” outlet—which includes the social and digital media you most want to tap into—cares about having the facts.
They want a story. One that sticks to their worldview or is so opposite that they can’t help but talk about it (and not in kind and gentle terms).
You must know this to successfully build your brand in media. Rather than casually responding to an interview request, do your homework. Check out the reporter/blogger and their outlet. What kind of stories do they write? Who (and how big) is their viewership? Is the story they are percolating a good fit for your point of view? Note: you need not shy away from taking the contrarian view—your unique twist may be exactly what gets you quoted “above the fold”.
Always, always have your facts straight. There is no substitute in the world of experts for being prepared and informed. But know that it’s the story you tell that people remember and that makes media clamor for you.