Guerrilla Selling – Posing as a Journalist?

What About the Ethics?

In response to the last blog on Guerrilla Trade Show Selling, Holly Wilner, Founder at Trade-a-Date Singles Events, responded:

“Yes good stuff [on how to take advantage of a trade show opportunity] …although my boyfriend, a journalist for over 30 years got a little indignant about someone falsely posing as one, which may actually come back to bite the poser…but if he comes through with the article, then I guess hes met his obligation.”

The best description of a journalist that I’ve ever heard: “We observe. And take notes.”

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I never advocated “posing.” I assumed that my colleague, who is a fellow professional speaker, has the necessary command of language to write a great story (or at least the financial resources to have someone ghost it.) And I absolutely re-iterate, you must deliver the goods, or you won’t be asking the right questions or documenting the right answers. If you approach it with the wrong intent, it simply won’t work.

More powerful than any brochure you could send about your product, a tear sheet from the magazine featuring a quote from the CEO is the most powerful door opening weapon in the guerrilla arsenal.

If you have ANY qualms about the ethics of this approach, I recommend full-disclosure. “This is my first assignment. I’m brand new at this. In my day job I work for . . . ”

And by ALL means, ask your editor to coach you. Ask IN ADVANCE what they expect the word count to be, and if there is any special slant or angle on the story they’d like you to take. Editors always give me my best ideas for articles. Ask them to e-mail you their “editorial guidelines” which will serve as a cook-book for their book. Rustle up some past issues at the library or on line to get a feel for the form and format

This approach is based on the Guerrilla Selling principle of “Investment.” Give first. You are giving the magazine and its readers new information and insight; you are giving the companies you interview publicity for their products. You benefit by building relationships with potential customers. Everybody wins.

The expertise you gain in the process will very quickly make you an industry expert, as well as a legitimate journalist.

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