As far as publicity and media exposure goes, 2020 and 2021 were certainly my “bumper crop” years!
Actually, it goes back even further to June 2019.
That was when my family and I were featured in a Father’s Day news article in our nation’s leading print daily The Straits Times (ST).
Father’s Day 2019
A senior reporter from ST wanted to feature stay home dads that month. Then, I had been one for about a year while holding down remote work as a freelancer; work I later resigned from just one month before the interview that birthed said article.
From there, one thing led to another. Before long I was contacted by both traditional and digital media outlets, as well as various educational institutions in the country (you can find them all archived in my blog’s About page).
All of them wanted my views in two areas I had grown in expertise these past four years — stay home parenting and raising a special needs kid (my youngest boy has global developmental delay and moderate autism).
So whether it’s print, radio, guest blogs or podcasts, I’ve pretty much done them all.
And what have I learnt from all that media exposure?
Let me explain,
1. Flavour of the month lasts only that long
First off, newsworthiness and timeliness — arguably the key engines that drive what’s current and of interest when it comes to publishing breaking news.
In my case, that means each April and June, my standing and experience as a special needs parent/advocate, plus “three years” of stay home “dad-dom”, positions me as someone whose views are sought after. Or at least tacitly welcomed when I submit unsolicited essays or guest blog posts for publication.
(In case you’re unaware, April is World Autism Month and the third Sunday of June is Father’s Day)
The downside of course is that for the rest of the year, I’ll have to ‘fight’ or ‘justify’ hard to prove why my voice should be given a public hearing.
Because for me, outside of those two months, achieving media exposure requires some nifty acrobatics!
It’s all about preparing in advance to chase down seasonal topics of interest. Leveraging quickly on sudden breaking news that might intersect with my areas of expertise. Targeting commemorative days for significant events or moments such as International Men’s Day (19 Nov) or Children’s Day (7 Oct this year).
And penning my thoughts ahead of time to be sent to publishers for their once-over, with fingers firmly crossed that they will give my words their “moment in the sun”.
For the uninitiated, this is really what it boils down to.
This is the nature of media exposure.
You have to prove why yours is the credible voice that speaks authoritatively into a given situation. Otherwise, you can kiss that momentary fame and limelight goodbye.
Talk about hustle to the muscle!
The irony is that in less than a month (or shorter) after one’s words are published, no one’s going to remember!
The very definition of transience.
Which brings me to my next point.
2. Clamouring for more is like chasing the wind
Whether digital, print or broadcast, the truth is inescapable. The allure and seductive promise of a moment in the media spotlight has felled even the steeliest of stoic men and women everywhere.
So why would I expect to be immune?
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I admit it.
The attention and momentary recognition makes for a swoon-worthy concoction in this little head of mine! Like a drug that an addict clamours desperately after all the time.
Looking back, I realise that I’ve appeared on not one, not two, but three radio shows between January 2020 and June 2021. Also, I’ve been on two different podcast episodes between August and December 2021. In between, I’ve published numerous op-eds and forum letters too. And let’s not forget the various school interviews for my take on parenting and special needs.
Let’s face it, it’s nearly impossible to keep one’s head screwed on straight!
Imagine if I had gone on TV too!
[Incidentally, I did. Twice! Back in 2014 and 2015; episodes of the former can still be found on Youtube!]
Thank goodness that’s not happened for a long time now, though I’ve been approached these past few years.
(Had to decline as they wanted me to speak in my mother tongue, Mandarin. Unfortunately, years of Western-based education has spoilt me from ever making that my lingua franca.)
My point is this: it’s hard to NOT clamour in my innermost being for more media exposure!
Good thing I’m no starstruck teen but a grown man past 50, who’s seen the fruitlessness of fame. I recognise all that clamouring for media exposure is ultimately like chasing after the wind.
Futile, and meaningless in the long run.
Again, the word transience comes to mind.
That brings me to my final learning point.
3. Life happens off-stage, not on
Looking back on my writings and media appearances, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve physically cringed at some of the stuff I wrote and said!
And since whatever is published is a done deal, I can’t exactly go back and change my words (except for posts I publish on my own blog…unless of course someone screenshots my original version — Yikes!).
For me it’s a reminder that Life — real, authentic, day-by-humdrum-day Life — is really more hum than drum. More flow than fireworks. More scooter than space shuttle.
But it’s also the real deal. Not those limelight moments of media exposure.
So what I had hoped to be sage words publicly shared by me to inform or help a fellow reader or listener, is really more fleeting sound bites than anything else.
The true test of what I write or say is in fact just how we live from day to day.
For unless we make the effort to walk with someone for a sufficiently long time and connect, these transient, fleeting moments of five-minute fame won’t really stick or make a huge difference.
I think that’s an important point to bear in mind for me. It helps keep my feet planted on solid ground, rather than floating on some magic flying carpet that’s the stuff of fairy tales.
So as enticing as my next media exposure moment might be, I can now re-read this post to remind me that it’s all just transience.
And in doing so, I’m hopefully redirecting myself towards the day-to-day realities that will ultimately build me up towards the eternal.
To what truly matters.
So as I finish here my 300th blog post, I’ll end with this appropriate quote by author and activist Christine Caine:
“If the light that is within you is not greater than the light that is upon you, the light that is upon you will destroy you!”