Be Interesting

by Shannon Paul on June 8, 2008

Back in my teens, I asked a very wise adult how to get boys to be interested in me and he replied, “be interesting”. Sure, there was more discussion to follow, but that’s the part I still remember.

The best way I have found since then to be interesting is to be interested. Being interested in other people and the world around me not only provides others with the motivation to be interested in me, it gives me a sense of what interests them; thus ensuring a cycle of mutual interest.

Surprisingly enough, this advice seems especially true in public relations and marketing communications in general.

People in business can often have a distorted sense of the newsworthiness of events and developments within their organization. Think of this as professional navel gazing.

The fact that your company has built an improvement on an existing product may be exceedingly cool, but it doesn’t necessarily make it news to a journalist or a blogger in the sense that they feel compelled to share it with their readers. Some might, however, be willing to sell you some ad space.

The best way to understand what people want to write about is to read what they write. Be interested in what is already being written and talked about and ask yourself why it’s being written and talked about.

Chances are, if you’re reading/watching/listening to a story about a company that has just made an improvement on an existing product, two or more of these other criteria are also true:

1. Hyper Locality – The trend in community newspapers is to stay focused in an increasingly hyper local area. Small, personal stories have the greatest traction in their own backyard, but not much farther. Your neighbor might care about a small business achievement if it involves someone he might run into at the grocery store.

2. Timeliness – Pay attention to news cycles. There are high profile statistics released all the time. If your company is ready to release a new and improved product that greatly reduces the amount of energy consumed, announce the improvement at the same time as a study measuring energy consumption for products like yours is released. If people are already talking about products like yours in general, chances are they’ll mention yours specifically if it helps add a new angle to their coverage in a way that helps distinguish them from their competition. Current events, disasters, celebrity behavior and other headlines can also influence what is considered timely. Pay attention and remember that it is your job to connect the dots between the big picture and what you do at your company.

3. Jobs – This may not have always been true, but in a troubled economy, adding a lot of jobs is big news. This doesn’t mean that you should write a press release just because you are finally busy enough to hire a receptionist. But it does mean that if you landed a big contract and are about to hire 20 new people to manufacture this product because of increased demand, this is good for the surrounding area and others now have a reason to care.

4. Money – This part strikes fear and loathing in the hearts of many privately owned business owners, but, just try to find a story in the business section of any publication that doesn’t talk dollars. Big contracts, losses, gains, numbers are reason to care because they illustrate an economic event. Economic events are news — people talking about how great their products are is a sales pitch. Journalists and bloggers don’t write sales pitches, advertising copywriters do.

5. Preaching to the Choir – This is not a bad thing. The souls of those in the choir may be your most ardent and devout, but if neglected they can stray just as far as the sinners in the back row. If your company or industry has hardcore fans, they alone may care about every little development that your company is willing to share. Keeping a steady flow of information coming their way is a great way to get them to stick around for the long haul and in hard times.

I’m sure there are plenty of other details left to explore, but please feel free to add your comment and let me know what are you doing to stay interesting.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

June 8, 2008 SuperDave 1

“The best way I have found since then to be interesting is to be interested. Being interested in other people and the world around me not only provides others with the motivation to be interested in me, it gives me a sense of what interests them; thus ensuring a cycle of mutual interest.”

I couldn’t agree more. Especially in my industry, I think we are often really misguided in our understanding what people really are interested in hearing about. And I hope that the mission of some of the real PR and marketing folks out there is to educate any industry on how to listen to their customers more. Collaborative messaging works best when driven by customer and prospect needs… and not just their needs, but their REAL drivers and desires- THEIR wants, not just what we as “experts” THINK they want.

It’s ok to educate, but only effective as it fits into a framework of what drives our audience.

In the first train the trainer class, one of the things that has stuck with me the most is the acronym WIIFM, or What’s In It For Me? Personal relevance, whether it’s meeting a want or a need, is the only real way to effectively reach anyone.

What am I doing to stay interesting? I think you already said it – staying interested.

Congratulations on your real live blog, and your “first real live blog post”.


June 8, 2008 charliecurve 2

I’m interested in what Shannon Paul is blogging about.


June 9, 2008 chrisbrogan 3

I quite agree. There’s a little phrase inside Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger (want to watch a great lip sync video for that? ) that I often think about: “Well if you’re bored, then you’re boring.” This relates. I believe it’s a matter of being all that you are.

Sometimes, I think about it like movies. I want to be just as vibrant as I human can be while “on stage,” even if that’s still just a reflection of who I am.

Don’t be fake. Be interesting. They’re two different things.

You, Shannon, are most certainly interesting. (One of my favorite words, you know).


June 9, 2008 mrboffo 4

Great post, Shannon! Thanks to Jamie Grove for pointing me to you.

Now, if I can just convince you to drop the login requirement for comments…


June 9, 2008 shannonpaul 5

My mind is hardly set in stone regarding anything on this blog. I am in the earliest stages of beta testing. Is logging in that bad? Convince me.


June 9, 2008 mrboffo 6

@ Shannon – I’ll give it a shot!

Here’s a good example of why logging in isn’t the best thing. I have a couple of different blogs, neither of them on My profile points to one – my gaming hobby blog. That blog is pretty irrelevant to what you’re doing here.

Without the login, I could have entered my other blog’s address ( – which is relevant.

I also know folks who won’t just comment if they’re required to log in. I don’t know that you’ll lose readers, but you’ll have fewer comments.

If you’re worried about spam, I think has some spam filter (akismet, I think) available.

In my mind, there needs to be a compelling reason to require a login. You want people to comment, and so you want to reduce barriers any way you can.


June 9, 2008 shannonpaul 7

You make some great points :) I’ll give it a try. Now visitors can leave comments without logging in. It’s official!


June 9, 2008 Ken Burbary 8


I agree with the previous comment re: forcing login to leave comments. I originally required it on my blog as well, but then opened up commenting. I’ve not had any problems with SPAM. Akismet takes care of those problems for you. You’ll receive more comments as a result.

Interesting first post. Keep em coming!


June 12, 2008 pwrnewmedia 9

Interesting read. :) It reminds me of an old quote I once had on a sticky on my computer: There is no such thing as an uninteresting subject, only uninterested people. (Okay, that’s rough and I don’t recall who said it but you get the drift).


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