So yesterday I posted a piece looking at the dubious PR strategies employed by Politico and so astutely analyzed in Gabe Sherman’s “The Scoop Factory.” The latter article mentions and quotes from an internal memo issued to Politico staffers (and leaked to Sherman) detailing The Politico Approach to PR.
Today, for your consideration, TNR publishes that memo. And: it is a doozy. As in, it’d be fair to assume that Lee Abrams had written it.
Stories need to be both interesting and illuminating—we don’t have the luxury of running stories folks won’t click on or spend several minutes with in the paper.
a) Would this be a “most e-mailed” story?
b) Would I read this story if I hadn’t written it?
c) Would my mother read this story?
d) Will a blogger be inspired to post on this story?
e) Might an investor buy or sell a stock based on this story?
f) Would a specialist learn something from this story?
g) Will my competitors be forced to follow this?
IN MOST CASES, THE ANSWER WILL BE “YES” TO SEVERAL OF THESE QUESTIONS IF THIS IS A STRONG POLITICO STORY. If you are not certain that several of these are “yes,” you can reframe your reporting and analysis so people will say, “POLITICO is reporting…” or “The way POLITICO put it is…”
If your friends or source [sic] are buzzing about something related in any way to public affairs, don’t ask yourself WHETHER it’s a Politico story. Ask yourself HOW you can make it a Politico story, to capture built-in traffic and mindshare.
Indeed. (Insert your favorite sausage-making reference here.) And—courtesy, again, of TNR—there’s more where that came from.Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.