Sections of This Topic Include
Look Out, It's the Media! Run! Basic Mistakes/Assumptions People
Release Yourself from the Press Release
Additional Guidelines for Successful Media Relations
Additional Media Relations Resources for Nonprofits
Related Library Topics
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In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to Media Relations. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.
© Copyright Martin Keller
In my PR career, I've heard some unbelievable things people have said about "The Media." Things that made "The Media" out to be some kind of monolithic machine, the political equivalent of the Teabagger viewpoint about "The Government" (as if "The Government" were one entity. Seriously, are they mad at the Department of Agriculture, or The Business Transformation Office over at the Department of Defense?!)
Still, the big bad "Media" is there to report news and if you have bad news, it generally will be reported in some fashion. There are ways, however, to diffuse the fear or anxiety of dealing with "The Media." Some of these true examples hopefully underscore my point:
1) "Are they going to look for skeletons?"
This was asked by one worried small business owner who was going to be profiled. If the business desk is assigning an Investigative Reporter to your story, yes. However General Assignment reporters are not there to dig up the dirt and look for bones, they simply want your story. They don’t have another agenda. Having a good media kit and key messages in place to hand off to someone in the media puts up guardrails to help focus your business or issues on what’s important and positive.
2) "Can I review the story before it’s written?"
Hardly ever, although sometimes the rare reporter who gets really want to get it right, or is challenged by a complex issue about something your company does, or something you did, will let you review for accuracy but not content changes. That’s why media training in advance of interviews with "The Media" to stay on message is a good thing to do.
3) "I have an event on Friday night that I would love to get some coverage of before that, can it happen?"
This was asked by someone once in a cold call two days before the event. Unless you've got the president of the US or Leonardo DiCaprio at your shindig — or have truly invented a whizbang device that no one has ever seen before — chances are almost nil.
Even with a news cycle that turns over 10 times a day or more on the internet, sufficient lead times are important to adhere to. Give yourself — or your PR person a few weeks in advance of when you want your story "out there" to contact the right person in "The Media" (Note: Magazines are often working 4-6 months ahead of real time.) Breaking News is one thing that gets instant coverage, but that is usually a tragedy of some sort unfolding or a national or international incident (although these days, a celebrity marriage break up or drug bust, or even a car chase in Oklahoma, unfortunately qualify). Investor Relations is a whole other universe, and we won't go there today.
4) "The Media" will make my company famous.
Well, it could. Overall, a few stories well placed will increase your visibility, hopefully help drive sales and/or achieve some of the objectives you set forth once you engaged a PR company or put your PR strategy into motion.
But let's be realistic. Most overnight success stories I know of took 10 years of hard work. PR — as a wise friend once described it — is like drip irrigation in the desert: Droplets of water falling on the plant eventually produce a bloom, and if you're lucky, fruit.
5) "Can I get the photo/video/radio interview The Media?"
Generally no. It becomes the intellectual property of the paper, television or radio station. You can get back copies or links of the paper you need for a price. And there are services to obtain DVD copies or links to something that ran on TV, or a radio interview. Usually all such copies come with legal guidelines about how the material may or may not be used. Always have your own photos on hand (sometimes "The Media" will request it — and maybe even your own b-roll — footage that tells your story in images as background, if appropriate).
Remember, dealing with "The Media" is like dealing with other human beings. Sure, people working in the profession hold a power to magnify what you do. But the last time I checked, those doing it were like you and me, 90% water.
Release Yourself from the Press Release
© Copyright Michelle Tennant Nicholson
Press Releases or Not?
I’ll tell you this as gently as I can: Press releases don’t always work. So don’t send them out thinking they’re going to get you on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America or CBS Early Show. A lot of people still think press releases are the best way to get the media to notice them, but to the busy media professional, press releases say: “Here’s something everyone is going to get at the same time as you. No scoop for you!”
When Press Releases Work
Now I'm not saying they don't work for search engine optimization purposes. Press releases are great for that. They:
- build links back to your site
- build your branding and messaging online and
- increase your credibility.
You may want to send out press releases if you're a corporate entity and need the message to be searchable on news wire services in the future. And reporters are not likely to ignore your press release if you have true breaking news, such as a plant expansion that will add hundreds of jobs in a local coverage area.
But sending out press releases is not the most effective way to score the coveted news features that you'll want. That is done with relationship building. Nothing beats “dial and smile” phone calls, personalized emails and perfect pitches.
Organizing an online press kit with ready-to-use story ideas, quotes and background will help you get your message out and make it easier for the media to cover you. And making it easy for the media will definitely boost your odds of being chosen as a source in articles, TV segments and radio broadcasts.
Also, with social networking sites, it’s easier than ever to build a buzz about your product or service. You can take your message direct to the audience you seek with a great website, some search engine optimization or a Facebook friends link.
To score media coverage and build credibility though, there’s still no substitute for personal contact with your target media. Get to know them and make them feel special. Read their articles and tune in to their shows. Educate yourself on the different specialty or niche areas they cover.
Dig in. Most businesses have untold stories that are interesting. It may be something about how they got started or how they developed a new product or service. So find the compelling story about your business or product.
Then make a list of those media people you would like to cover your story and begin building relationships with them — send them the press release before everyone else gets it. Give them the scoop before you announce it to the world. Making the media feel special is a sure-fire way to have them come back and ask for more scoops from you.
of the Trade 1: Don't Fritter Away Your Press Release Real Estate
lists of samples of press releases, product announcements, etc.
How to Write a Press Release
Phony Baloney: When Press Releases Go Awry (or on Rye)
Slouching Towards Friday: Best Days to Send a News Release
Trial by Media - Do's and Don'ts
How To Get Free Media Coverage
NetAction Notes 20
Media Training - A PR & Legal Perspective
Look Out, It's The Media! Run! Basic Mistakes/Assumptions People Make 1.0
Tools of the Trade 3: The Call
Going Off the Record Can = Off You Go
Writing Op-Ed Pieces (Without Sounding Your Own Foghorn)
You Had Me At Hello
Six Steps for Getting National Media Coverage
In Reaching out to the Media, Don't Forget Your Backside
Chevron Gets Pranked
Making a Statement
How to Write and Implement a Media Policy!
Media Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Communicating with the Media
Don’t Piss off the Press!
Get Press! (Part One of Two)
Get Press! (Part Two of Two)
Six Simple Steps for Turning Your Organization
into a Heavily Quoted Source
Basic Press Outreach for Not-for-Profit and Public Sector Organizations
Five Steps to Nonprofit Messaging Success
Help Your Colleagues and Base Become Effective Messengers
Abstractions Make Your Nonprofit Tagline Pointless
Montana Advocacy and Communications Nonprofit Toolkit
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