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Musings on digital media, urbanization and politics from Seattle, Wash.

If you want to get to know someone, read what they write

October 20, 2020

If you ever hear that an athlete doesn’t read what people write about them, don’t believe it. They read it. At the very least, their dad or their brother or their wife reads it—and they pass it along. Blog post, newspaper, even the occasional tweet. It gets in front of them.

That’s why Colts QB Philip Rivers’s colorful and candid comments yesterday made the rounds.

And, just for good measure, here they are transcribed:

I don’t know all you guys yet. I haven’t gotten to shake all your guys’ hands and talk to you guys yet, either. I made the decision last week, I’m gonna read—I wanna read what they wrote.

You go over 16 years (on one team), you know. You know the guys, you know—and shoot, that’s what comes with it. You stink it up they better write “Rivers better get with it.” You expect it.

But I don’t know you guys. I went back and forth but I said dadgummit I’m gonna find ’em. And not to be motivation, not to be anything, I just kinda wanna see. I don’t know you guys personality-wise. I felt like all ya guys were pretty dang honest.

The relationship between a beat writer and the people they cover is a unique one. In football, you’re talking to these guys multiple times a week. In baseball, there are people—like the manager—that reporters are talking to every single day, multiple times in many cases. So it’s important to have a strong working relationship. It’s important to know them.

And that’s what gave me pause at this Rivers video, in addition to his candidness. Rivers spent 16 years with the Chargers and wanted to get to know this Colts beat crew. How do they think? What’s their personality? What types of storylines do they pursue and highlight? What types of things do they observe that others don’t?

It’s the type of thing you can only glean through their writing—and it reminded me of a very similar quote I heard from an appellate lawyer we work with at LexBlog, J. Scott Key of the Georgia Criminal Appellate Law Blog.

Asked what benefit his writing has to potential clients or referrers on our This Week in Legal Blogging program, he offered this:

If they already have my name from some other source, if they’ve already been referred to me, they’re already looking into me for whatever reason, I find that the blog and the body of work that I’ve built having blogged now for a decade is the clients get to know who I am.

They get to know how I think. They get to know how I approach things, how I solve problems. And they get to know a little bit about me and they get to know a lot about the process from looking at that body of work. It gives me some credibility when people who have already heard about me are trying to learn more about me.

While this post is titled what it is, the primary point is that if it’s important to you that people know not just what you think—but how you think—you need to write. If it’s important that people in your industry know your take on important developments in your shared field, if it’s important they know what you think is important, if it’s important they know how you communicate, there’s really only one way to do it.

It isn’t easy. But it isn’t that hard, either.

And in a world where there are fewer and fewer fully-formed and -processed thoughts shared on the web, you can make a difference by getting yours out there.

I can’t say the timing has never been better, but it’s still awfully damn good.

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