i spent this weekend up at columbia at an event called Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow.
apart from being floored by the sheer talent, credentials, education, skills and clout of the young muslims in the attendance - i was also blown away by what we learned.
our first lecture was by two PR companies (Fenton and Auburn communications, respectively) - who reminded us how to deal with the press effectively, how to become the go-to person for press outlets, how to keep control of an interview and how to make sure that what you're doing and saying is newsworthy.
which led perfectly into my second part - the op-ed project - we took part in an incredible program that attempts to level the field in policy-making and influence by increasing the number of women writing op-eds. currently, editorial writers are 90% white male. this is partly because only 1 in 10 op-ed submissions comes from a woman.
however, for me, the most interesting part of both programs was a question from catherine orenstein, one of the founders of the op-ed project:
do you understand your knowledge, experience and power in terms of its value to others?
in other words, why does what you want to say matter?
in other words, SO WHAT?
this is a question i tend to ask clients i am working for - and it usually gets them angry and irritated - but it is incredibly useful in getting them to appeal to their audiences more effectively.
think about your message. is it internal or designed for your target?
for instance, Google's mission - do not do evil - is internal. it's for the people inside google.
if your mission is "artistic excellence" - that's for you to strive for - not for audiences who want a story, an emotional connection, who want to be moved, distracted and entertained.
when you think about what you do - always ask yourself - WHO CARES?
not from the pov, that's "it's good for them" - because no one wants to take their medicine.
but how does what you do/create/communicate add positive value to someone's life in a way that he/she will seek you out?
how do you become the object of desire?
by asking yourself again and again the hard question - WHO CARES?