10 Ways to Get Media to Love You Copyright © 2003 by Margie Fisher
So you’ve put yourself “out there” with a public relations campaign. Your dealings with media now become critical. Those relationships with media can make or break your public relations efforts. Here’s how to get media to love you:
1. When media calls, stop what you are doing and give them your full attention. That’s right. Maybe you’re having lunch. Or in a meeting. Guess what? The media waits for no one. I advise my clients to tell assistants to interrupt them at any time if media calls.
2. Treat media like gold. Answer their questions in a forthcoming manner, in a respectful, pleasant tone. Do not disparage others and be careful about making negative comments. Do not lie or provide exaggerated claims. Just like you, media people appreciate those who take “high road”.
3. Be realistic about coverage. A reporter can interview you for an hour and you might only have one line in media. Or none. Depending on how story goes or space available or editor’s whim, any of above can happen. The reporters owe you nothing for your time. Take this in stride and be pleasant and understanding in future dealings with them.
4. Lose control. You have control over advertising; you have minimal control over PR. That’s difference between paying for something and not paying for it. A media piece may not contain “story” that you would like covered. It may focus on an angle you don’t like. The reporter determines what angle to use, depending on his/her needs and information you provide. It also probably won’t be 100% accurate. If it is 90% accurate, you’re doing great.
5. Stop complaining. Sometimes, after a phone interview, you will be misquoted. Unless it is truly a libelous or slanderous comment, you should take it in stride. DO NOT decide to complain to reporter, or you will certainly not be getting any press, at least not favorable, in that media again.
6. Give several contact numbers, including day, night and weekend, to media (including mobile, vacation/out-of- town contact info). A member of press could be in a different time zone, or might want to call you before or after your business hours.
7. Be realistic about when media will cover you. Typically, daily newspapers, radio and TV have a one day to three month coverage window. Magazines have a 2-3 month to one year window. The lead times vary depending on editorial calendars, seasonal coverage and breaking news. In addition, media chooses when they want to run a story; you have little control over when they run it, unless it is tied in with a timely event, such as a holiday. While you would love to see yourself or your organization on 6 o’clock news or front-page of business section, media may have other stories slotted for those options, or they may need to fill a space in another segment. Similarly, you might want your story to run immediately, but media may hold it for months, if there is no urgency in running it.