I very much enjoy the NPR show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, which includes a segment called, “Not My Job” in which they “ask interesting people about things they’re just not interested in.” Some days at work, I feel like I’m stuck in this segment for hours.
One such segment came my way on Friday, when the PR folks asked me to provide a comment for an article about a controversial WiFi implementation in England, where parents were worried that their children might be harmed by exposure to 802.11 waves bouncing around their local school. I tossed off 350 words and didn’t give it a second thought. That’s why they pay me the big bucks.
As sometimes happens, the coverage ran. With many of my words, most of them in the original order. And a pull quote. Under my photo. This highlights two important points about PR and the media:
- Showing up is a big part of PR coverage. If you’re in the right place at the right time and have a decent story that the journalist needs to make a deadline, you can get your name in lights.
- Given this, don’t assume that everybody quoted in the media really is an expert of any kind.
I don’t mind saying that it’s a damn fine sound bite, and I’m pretty proud of myself for getting quoted as an expert by opening with “I’m not qualified” to discuss the topic at hand. Score one for modesty in self-promotion.