How to Get People to Tell You Things
By Coming Off Likable, Friendly and Helpful
By Larry Welborn
Courthouse Reporter, Orange County Register
- Remember people’s names.
- Say "Thank You" – even send some thank-you cards.
- Become human to the people you deal with; look for common ground.
- Fair to all, large and small. Get to know the judges, but also their clerks, bailiffs and secretaries.
- Find Mr. or Mrs. Right – the person who knows.
- Return phone calls, all of them.
- Make a source list on your computer. Periodically call people just to chat.
- Do not speak negatively of any person. The worst thing you should say is: So-and-so is really a character.
- Do not whine.
- Your business card is your friend. You should hand out a box a year.
- Put names and phone numbers in a source list, with a note about each person.
- Never miss a chance to do a simple favor.
- Share funny jokes.
- Get names in stories and spell them right.
- Get out of the office, say "hi" and smile. Take advantage of the 3 p.m. recess to meet people face-to-face. Say "hey, what’s going on?"
- Breaking bread. Have breakfast and lunch with sources.
- Develop a source list and update it.
- Train sources to call you. Tell them, if you would tell this news to your spouse or your aunt, call me. You’ll get a lot of chaff – and some wheat. Every body has a news tip.
- Always be honest, especially in these days of Jayson Blair and Jack Kelley. Tell people what you are doing and why you are doing it.
- Always protect your source. Explain what you mean by off-the-record and not-for-attribution.
- Establish ground rules.
- Use sources to get to other sources.
- Ask for help. People feel more important because they can help.
- Never blame your employer.
- Get the name of the dog and the name of the beer.
- Be part of the community but don’t be too chummy.