One of the things that I, as a long time Packer reporter, continue to deal with as I evaluate what I do is what I’ll refer to as “reporter’s remorse. “
This particular feeling comes from unfinished tasks - the interview that never gets unpacked into a feature story, the convention workshop story that gets shortchanged, the source that calls back but too late for the deadline, the international trip that begs for more feature coverage – that are left undone for what could be a multitude of reasons.
Sometimes the frustrations and remorse may relate to providing a good as gold 35” inch story into a 12” hole. Or a story gets held for space reasons and then become dated and never runs.
Even now, I have a mental list of stories I want to get to – that grower who found immediate payback for installing a traceability system, the in-depth
look at a Costa Rican pineapple firm, the follow up with FDA officials, etc. This is not to mention the general organizational angst related to stacks of stuff in my office…..
These realities must be frustrating to sources as well – can we call it “source’s remorse”? What, I gave you 30 minutes on a busy Monday morning and I can’t tell if you did anything with it?”
Journalism consultant Paul Conley recently suggested to Packer writers and editor a solution to at least some of the scenarios described above. Take the example of a source that calls back to late to get into a story on deadline. At that point, he suggests, writers should ask the source to leave a comment on the story after it appears online, to add their “2 cents” at that point. As a produce professional/association exec/consultant/government official who has a lot of offer, consider “owning” that idea the next time you feel you could add a perspective that missing in a Packer story. Also, one great forum for the trade to ask questions and be part of a free flowing dialogue is to become active in the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group, either at the LinkedIn site or on Google.
One great example of this is one member of the group who asked other members this question:
“For all the small business owners out there, what is one thing you wish you would have done differently?”
What a great question - and the response that one member gave didn’t pull any punches. He said this:
I have many regrets, I cannot only list 1
1. Fire non producing sales staff sooner (Go with gut instinct)
2. Invest more in branding the company ( You are your image)
3. Spend less time on the smaller accounts (10% of customers cause 90% of problems)
4. Hire a qualified CFO earlier in the game.
5. Reward mid level managers more to retain talent.
6. Promote competitive feelings ( Vanderbilt once said " Personal vengeance is good business")
7. Spend more time with drivers that are delivering product. They are the people closest to the customer.
8. Invest in training, training, training. Do it right the first time!
9. Promote quicker, take on more and let the talented staff drive the growth rate.
10. Smile more when the company is growing and don't be afraid to slam your fist on the table when it is not. Too often the little things bring you down (See # 3) and you lose focus and drag your staff down with you.
11. Spend more time with family and realize that they are more important than the business-ALWAYS.
Just as those two and about 200 others have, take an opportunity to join those groups, ask questions and provide insight to other professionals. Add your “on the record” perspective to Packer stories. There is no lack of opportunity to make yourself heard today, notwithstanding the occasional remorse of dealing with the imperfect trade press reporter.