In a previous post I wrote about the good things you can expect when you make the media your BFF. This article deep dives into the “relations” aspect of media relations, fitting in as a longer view type of visibility strategy.
Have you noticed how some media outlets quote the same experts over and over, or interview them on their TV or radio talk shows on a regular basis?
This isn’t a fluke. It also doesn’t mean that the expert has the best answers, or that they got lucky.
The name you keep hearing and seeing is because:
- That person developed a relationship with editors or a show host
- Gives valuable content the media can use as quotes
- Is a reliable expert source
- Presents well on camera or at the microphone
- Is easy to work with and responsive
- Is reliably contrarian or has novel approaches to the topic
By targeting even just a few select media contacts and focusing on building a relationship, it’ll make your efforts to get published or interviewed by order magnitude more effective.
Top 6 keys to enduring relationships with the media
Whether you’re seeking to be an expert source in print, online or on TV/radio, and plan to contact just one reporter or 100, use these 6 keys as a guide to developing enduring relationships with the media.
1. Be intimately familiar with the audience you want to reach
Get crystal clear in your mind the target market (or markets) you want to reach, and specifically who buys from you. Because it’s the buyers whose eyes and brains you want to get your ideas in front of. Remember that your buyers are also consumers, which means many of them pay attention to consumer media.
2. Be intimately familiar with the publication
Acquaint yourself with a target publication or media outlet, and only then introduce yourself. There’s nothing that riles up editors more than someone who appears unfamiliar with their publication’s content, format, topics and style.
3. Be intimately familiar with the reporter’s beat
Know what the reporter generally writes about (for example: environment; education/schools; technology; politics; lifestyle, etc.) Study their reporting style (hard news, feature, investigative, humorous, serious). With this level of understanding you’ll know who writes about your topic, and you’re ready to introduce yourself and pitch relevant ideas.
4. Be interesting so that the media find your ideas and expertise appealing
Being interesting means that you’re current with what’s going on around you and can deftly tie your ideas to news, trends and public conversations. If your ideas are novel and fully developed, or you’ve conducted research, you’ll be better-positioned to influence an editor to start a public conversation, with you and your ideas at the center.
5. Be a valuable resource
Let editors and reporters know they can call on you any time, and you’ll be there for them. But don’t wait to be contacted. Initiate a conversation by letting them know you exist, the topics they can contact you about for your expertise and opinions, and that you can provide resources to “round out” their story.
Ask what else they could be looking for. Here’s what this can look like:
I contacted a reporter to thank her for an article she had written about a former (female) politician, and strategically asked what other kinds of stories she was interested in.
She responded, “Women doing unusual things.” I had a client who does unusual things: she’s an engineer who designs big public structures to be safe from terrorist attacks. I pitched a story idea to tie in with the 10th commemoration of the 9/11 attacks.
The journalist liked the idea, and garnered her editor’s approval for a Sunday front page (and website Home page) profile of the client just before 9/11/11.
6. Be nice, two ways
Even if a reporter is brusque with you, keep your nice on. Reporters are always on deadline, so if you decide to call one the first words out of your mouth after you introduce yourself must be, “Are you on deadline?” That short question will help win you a friend.
If you read a piece on your topic that you disagree with, or you think is wrong, resist the temptation to scold the writer. Instead, thank her for the piece, and offer another view (yours) without lambasting hers. If you don’t control your impulse to give a piece of your mind, the only place on that reporter’s desk you may get to live is her blacklist.
Becoming a media magnet is part tenacity, part opportunity, and focus. It can be intense or more occasional, as fits your schedule and temperament.
How easy (or challenging) has it been for you to develop relationships with the media?
Roberta Guise works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. She also enables successful women to become thought leaders in their field of expertise. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611. www.guisemarketing.com