If you are asking questions about getting started with media relations, chances are your business is already taking off. Your future looks bright and you’re excited about what’s on the horizon. Now it’s time to try to spread the word, right? Well, maybe.
Here are some tips for successfully working with media and some things you should avoid:
DO understand the difference between advertising and earned media
What is earned media? It’s when a third-party (typically a reporter) chooses to publish news about your company based on something newsworthy. They call it “earned media” for a reason – you really do earn it. With advertising, you pay to control the message. There is less control with earned media, but you gain valuable third party credibility.
DO perfect your elevator pitch
Know your facts and be clear on your messages. A reporter won’t give you a lot of time so be concise and hit your main points early and often. Try to think like a reporter and be prepared to answer any questions you think they might ask.
DO your research and understand the media
Pay attention to media and learn who covers what topics. It’s not random – reporters cover certain beats, and you can tell which reporters might be interested in your idea by understanding the types of stories they cover.
DON’T send mass emails
Earning media is about being personal and helping to make a reporter’s job easier. A personalized email, written concisely and to the point, will go much further than a one-size-fits-all BCC email blast. Pick a reporter who you think will be interested (because you did your research) and target them with a specific pitch.
DON’T send media something that’s not newsworthy
Ask yourself “how can I make my news relevant to the media’s audience?” TV needs something visual, local papers need a hyper-local angle and beat writers need their stories to connect back to their topic. Explain why your idea is a fit for them and why their audience will care.
DO be sure a spokesperson is available
If you are offering an interview, be sure a spokesperson is available to the reporter and be flexible to meet the reporter’s needs. Ask if they have a deadline and be available for an interview to allow them to meet it. Remember, you’re trying to make their job easier.
DON’T lie or say “no comment”
Nothing is worse than getting caught up in a lie and saying “no comment” can be just as bad, because the perception is that you are hiding something.
DON’T expect an opportunity to review the story
Reporters won’t share their story with you ahead of time so don’t ask them to. Your best bet is to offer to fact check if they would like and be available to clarify questions along the way. After a story runs, only ask for a correction if it is paramount to the essence of the story – not because you don’t like how something is worded.
DO Consult with an expert
You may not have the budget for a long-term relationship with a public relations agency, but don’t be afraid to reach out to an expert for help. Even within a small budget, a PR professional can consult on your outreach strategy, answer questions or provide media training.
For more on PR and marketing, follow the Franco Public Relations Group blog at www.franco.com/blog.
Joe Ferlito is an account manager at Franco Public Relations Group, a full-service marketing and public relations agency in Detroit.