Thirty-five years' experience in the media is an invaluable resource to draw upon - and there are only two ways to get it: either land a job in the media today and beaver away yourself until the year 2050, or hire Jon McKnight.
That little bit of fast-forwarding will give you and your organisation the benefits of the nous, the insight and the confidence that can only come from a 35-year career as a qualified journalist, TV producer, magazine editor, copywriter, publisher, ghostwriter, PR consultant, TV presenter and corporate troubleshooter. Here's Jon on what he can do for you...
Lunch with a cannibal
Having lunch with a cannibal isn't something most of us do every day (or, in some cases, a second time), but it does give you the self-confidence to tackle just about any other business situation you could ever find yourself in, without feeling you've bitten off more than you can chew.
And when the cannibal has also murdered a stranger in cold blood and been freed after only seven years in jail, it does test your people-skills a little, as we've all been in meetings with the mercurial where we know that if we say the wrong thing he'll bite our head off in front of everyone.
That sort of experience is also useful for honing your risk-assessment skills. Having considered the risk to the film crew I was working with to be high, I wrote, under Actions Taken, that "I ensured the cannibal was well-fed before filming commenced".
While I'm happy to advise you on what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation, most of my clients tend to come to me instead for help with their communications.
Read all about you!
I can help them (and you) get into the newspapers, or avoid getting into them; I can get you on TV, or radio, or in the trade or professional press. And if you're afraid the media's about to find out about a problem that could damage your business or organisation, I can advise you on how to prepare, what to say (and not say), and even be your spokesman if a camera crew turns up on your doorstep and wants to put you on live TV or radio.
Knowing what to say, and what not to say, is key to almost everything I do. As a think-on-my-feet journalist unafraid to point out the elephant in any room, I've saved the skin of one major company and one national organisation by convincing those about to bring them down that they were, in reality, blameless. The chief executives of both clients were quaking inwardly, terrified that everything they'd worked for over so many years was about to vanish into oblivion, but I used my leadership skills and powers of negotiation to save them and their reputations, professionally, swiftly, and with integrity intact all round.
I hope I never need to do the same for you, but if the writing's on the wall and everything's about to hit the fan, I'll be the best chance you have.
Why I write for your audience, not for your Mum
For winning and retaining people's confidence is crucial to communications. I spend a lot of my time writing copy for people's websites, always putting myself into their audience's shoes and playing Devil's Advocate so the copy works and engages instead of merely pleasing my client and his Mum.
Being on the receiving end of tens of thousands of press releases over the decades means I write press releases that would have to get past me if I were the Editor - and I'm as ruthless as they are when it comes to weeding out puffs (self-serving promotional stories) that belong in the bin instead of in the newspaper.
I've convinced editors who were offering to run a paragraph on a client's story to use a double-page spread instead, on numerous occasions, and my insight into how TV producers think has helped me get precious airtime for clients on prestigious TV programmes.
Imagine, if you will, that you run a factory and want the world to know what you can produce... just like everyone else with a factory does. How do you get the press coverage that your rivals covet? And how do you make "factory produces goods" into a story that everyone wants to read?
In my case, I wondered what would happen if Davros, creator of the Daleks, were to commandeer my client's factory and use it to manufacture Daleks in galaxy-threatening quantities, all to British Standards.
I sourced a Dalek (not easy), engaged a photographer, and persuaded the editor of the manufacturing industry Bible to run the story as if it were a real-life risk-assessment.
The result was one of the most popular stories the magazine had ever run, and my client's factory is now known by all the right people as a one-stop-shop for sheet-metal manufacturing. Anyone could have come up with the same idea at any time since the Daleks were created in the early Sixties, but no-one did. Except me.
The long and the short of it
I'm good at getting the ear of hard-to-reach people, creating highly convincing editorial-style case studies (I've written hundreds, for numerous clients), and winning the confidence of everyone from Royalty to rock stars and other celebrities.
In between writing reviews and features and presenting videos for the prestigious international luxury and lifestyle publication Luxurious Magazine, I publish books, and offer discreet, director-level advice on a consultancy basis.
And if you've read this far, you may be wondering if I can write briefly and concisely, too.
Yes. I can.
I've written catchy headlines for decades, sub-edited 100 local, national and international news stories into single-paragraph news-in-brief items every night for years, and squeeze the most complicated messages into Tweets every day.
One more communications tip you might find useful: my phone number. 07720 709724.
Find out more
Posted by Michael Mann on 19 November 2015 at 08:56am
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