“I’m happy to try to help you.”
These are the words I’m now recommending women train themselves to utter when reached by a journalist looking for context to a story. Although the default response for many remains
“I’m not the best person.”
… the truth is — as I’ve discussed before in this blog — most journalists don’t need you to be “the best person”. They just need you to know enough to provide some informed analysis and insights that wouldn’t be commonly available to their readers, viewers or listeners. And chances are you can do that.
Last week in Calgary I had the opportunity to speak to an inspiring group of women whose social enterprises and non-profit initiatives receive money from the Canadian Women’s Foundation. When I asked those assembled how many of them had ever declined an interview opportunity with the above declaration, at least half the hands in the room went up.
But I reminded them that the inclination to defer to others often runs counter to the interests of the organizations they’re leading and the people they’re working to support. And even if they’re not “the best person”, the chances of them being able to add value is significant.
So starting the conversation with a journalist by offering to try to help opens up the possibility of you being able to contribute to the story in a meaningful way, without suggesting that you know all the answers. My guess is that — more often than not — you’ll be able to deliver on the offer.