So about 5-weeks ago, I’m sitting in an all-day team building conference for Martindale Hubbell Connected. My phone rings. It’s the PR tea, (I must admit it is taking some getting used to having a PR team).
“Lets talk about the New York Times,” they said. John Schwartz, a reporter for the Times had emailed me the day before to talk about doing an interview. He was writing an article on lawyers, social media, ethics, etc. and wanted to talk to me. Being a diligent corporate citizen I told him I’d get back to him, emailed my team, and put the ball in play. Surely there was someone more senior, more qualified, and more authoritative that John could talk to. The PR reps said, “no, he wants the man on the street perspective. That’s you.”
“Cool,” I said and thought how proud my mom would be (her mother, ohevet v’shalom, LOVED the NY Times and would have been even prouder). We prepped for the interview, and I realized that this was the same John Schwartz who had written about the Twitter mistrials, which I had blogged about back in March 2009 (small world John!). Having watched plenty of Entourage, I know there is a rule to interviews – they say give good sound bytes that the reporters can take away. I thought about bumper stickers. I was ready for my close up Mr. Deville.
The next day, John called me from the airport. He was on his way, flying somewhere, sounded rushed, and we talked. He really wanted to know about the risks to lawyers in using social media. I talked about the generation divide, that younger lawyers felt more comfortable living in these spaces since they had grown up in them. Really, it boiled down to common sense and trustworthiness of the network and community you were interacting in (not all communities are built the same). A community like Connected, where we verify registration, is less likely to have spamming, trolls, nonsense, and profile-jackers (not to say it can’t happen, but much less than in an open registration community where a 16-year old can pose as a patent attorney). I took heed to weave these points into the conversation.
After 15-minutes, John said he had enough material and thanked me for my time. Not knowing better, I thought maybe he was bored with me and I had bombed the interview. My team reassured me and said, “you were fantastic.”
“Yeah?” I said, “it felt a bit like I bombed.”
“No,” they told me, “you were great. That’s how these usually go, quick. But you answered the questions and were clear in what you said. We’ll have to get you to do more of these!” It made me feel better; sure felt “glamorous” to do an interview, and I wouldn’t mind another crack at it in the future.
The next day, John emailed to apologize for cutting it short. “They were boarding my plane,” he said, explaining that he had to hang up. “Thanks for the talk and we’ll be in touch.” I appreciated his doing that – it validated what my team had said.
Naturally, my family was excited. Mom made me promise to tell here when the paper issues (I think it’s today) and my PR partner said she’d put aside a few copies (I know Mom is going to buy one anyway). In any case, here’s the link to the article. It really is a “sound byte” – one quote – but hey, it’s the NY Times, I’m mentioned, my company’s mentioned … cool.