Posts Tagged ‘Jay Rockey’

Writing Essays and Stories Requires Strategic Thought

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Jeff Bezos

“When Jeff holds meetings at Amazon, he asks people not to use PowerPoints but to write an essay about their product or program or what the meeting is to be about,” says Don Graham, chief executive of The Washington Post Co., who recently sold The Washington Post newspaper and two sister publications to Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.

 In an interview in the Post by writer Ezra Klein, Graham continues that, after people at Amazon take time to read their essays, the meeting begins. Bezos’ point in requiring written essays is, as Graham explalins, “if you write at length, you have to think first, and…the quality of thought…to write at length is greater than the quality of thought to put a PowerPoint together.” I totally agree that you can’t write a cogent essay or a compelling story without giving it a lot of thought first–and throughout the process of completing the piece.

Bezos’ view reminds me of a meeting I had years ago with Jay Rockey, the revered “father of public relations” in Seattle and national leader in the profession. He said my work demonstrated that my top talents were writing and promotion.  After thanking him, I said I’d hoped he would comment on the strategic thinking that went into my work, which to me was a key differentiator.

Jay said, “Good writing requires strategic thinking.” That made sense to me–and I’ve never forgotten the lesson. Likewise, Bezos’ understanding of the writing process makes me eager to see what he’ll do with the The Washington Post–and what other newspaper leaders will learn from him as they search for ways to adapt and ensure their survival.