The Influency Power of Journalism's Megaphone

That’s one big megaphone. Who’s standing behind it? Does he deserve to be there?

Does it matter?

This week, Reuters blogger Felix Salmon stood on his large soapbox and complained about the fees and practices of Citibank. I’m all with Felix about how Citibank does business; I got to play “pass the blame” with them during a trip to Felix’ native UK, last year. And yes, I just called Felix Salmon, an esteemed writer for a large news wire, a “blogger”, a word that carries a negative stigma in many journalistic circles.

But Felix Salmon wrote a hatchet piece with very little basis, and in my opinion stepped over a few lines. Citibank discloses their business practices and account fees, if in small print, and Salmon wove together a tale that accuses Citi of lying. There’s a reason Felix Salmon is well respected, but this piece suggests that it’s more for his writing than his objectivity.

I know a little about journalism, and about beating up companies that perform bad customer service. If you’ve never read my treatise on the Oxymoron that is Customer Service at Virgin America, take a look.

And while I’ve just beaten up Felix Salmon, a bit, he’s not the point of this story. Nor is this a tale about the transformation of journalism.

Felix Salmon’s ill-prepared-and-presented case on the heinous acts he was subjected to by Citibank would have slipped by unnoticed, except … he’s Felix Salmon. If you wrote for Reuters people would notice you, too. Felix Salmon, in short, deserving or not, has achieved a position of huge Influency, and that Influency applies whether, on any given day, his work is good or bad. And yes, I’ve just added to the case by talking about and linking to the story. In short, Felix Salmon has gotten me to evangelize for him, even if his work here was weak beneath his abilities.

And as the old saying goes, the only bad press is no press. The question, if you don’t have the luxury of Reuters as your soapbox, is how you’ll achieve Influency in your business. And of course, you know the answer I’d like to plant in your ear; contact the Answer Guy. We’ll get you found. We’ll get you noticed. We’ll get you more business.

Whether you reach out or not, you can take some lessons from people like Felix Salmon—or better, from Jeff Haden. Things change, and your job is to change with them.

Simple, right?

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