The Importance Of Staying In The Know

My earliest PR mentors taught me a key lesson: always be in the know. Stay up on the trends, know more about the world than anyone else, but do it your way. And do it before you get to the office, because as soon as you are there, it’s old news and you’re probably onto the next thing.

Frankly, it probably started even earlier than that for me. As soon as I could read and prove that I could fold the print version of The New York Times (thanks mom!), the sports section was waiting for me each morning. I went to school each day in the know. How many points had Patrick Ewing dropped that night for my beloved Knicks? Did Mariano Rivera come into the game and rack up another save? Were the Jets really having another losing season?

Photo credit: The Lively Morgue blog via the NY Times circa 1993

And while I may not be into quite as into the sports news as much as I was back then (I admit to sticking it out with my Knickerbockers though!) my mornings are very much a reflection of that… except the news cycle has sped up quite a bit and I have to know more than just the box scores.

Each day my goal before getting into the office is to consume as much as possible about what’s happening in the world and in our industry and determine what my clients and colleagues will find interesting and relevant both personally and professionally. And while I might not catch everything, I do come into the office each day feeling inspired, in the know, and ready to help the people around me feel the same way.

That mantra of being in the know is baked into our company culture.

But following our mantra doesn’t have to be complicated.

A streamlined process before getting into the office each day is key for me, and I thought it might be helpful to share the tools that are in my scroll and part of my routine each morning. That said, there’s no right way to stay in the know, and the process can and should be personalized to your habits, interests, and preferred methods of content consumption.

Here are the tools that I use and the system that I follow to stay on my toes:

An old school love: NPR is the first place I get my news each morning. The “Newscast” section of the NPR app automatically updates at the top of every hour with a four-to-five minute summary on what’s going on in the world, and I find it extremely valuable. In addition to the newscast, NPR also has an excellent Morning Edition show; together, the two offer a perfect balance of hard news and human interest storytelling that offers valuable insight into what’s going on in the world.

The news brief: If you need to get your news in a quick bite, I highly recommend the New York Times Morning Briefing, which you can have delivered to your inbox each morning, and the Quartz Daily Brief, which aims to curate “the most important and interesting news from around the world, in your inbox.” You’re not going to get all of your industry news from these briefs, but if I only have five minutes to get a sense of the biggest news of the day, these always do the trick.

A curated feed: First off, let me start with an R.I.P. to the old faithful RSS aggregator known as Google Reader. For years, I used Google Reader to keep up on all of the news sites and outlets that interested me. So, when Google Reader went dark in 2013, I was heartbroken — and in search of a worthy alternative. I’ve tried a number of options out in the years since, but have ultimately settled on the native Apple News app, which “collects all the stories you want to read — so you no longer need to move from app to app to stay informed,” and Feedly, a tool that “turns your favorite sites into a personalized magazine.”

Both of these tools require a bit of curation at the beginning, but the time I spent setting them up has paid off everyday as I’m able to easily scroll through the news from the media outlets that are important to me.

My emphasis on a curated feed also extends to the publications, reporters, influencers and brands that I follow on social, mainly on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Alerts throughout the day from a select set of apps: I try to be selective about the push notifications and alerts I receive, and if it isn’t a text or a purchase notification from Amex (client), it is likely one of two apps notifying me about a significant news event — Nuzzel, an app that delivers news to you based on a certain number of people in my social graph talking about a topic or article, or the Quartz app, which Tech Crunch describes as a “text conversation with a bot that sends you a news topic.” When it comes to email alerts, I mainly rely on Muck Rack’s custom alerts that I have set up for news items I’m interested in learning more about and/or clients that are in the news or on social.

A reliable group of colleagues: No matter how much I try to stay up on the news by myself, a large part of staying in the know comes from collaborating with my colleagues. The D1A team is comprised of eclectic and smart people with varied interests, skills and things we follow online. Our Slack rooms and in-person conversations help keep all of us in the know.

If you polled our office, I think the process that everyone follows would be slightly different, but they all lead to the same place built around what it means to stay in the know for them.

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