Working with the press in a positive manner is an essential skill for a smart business owner to learn. It doesn’t matter if you have a small “from home” firm or a large bricks and mortar business. The press can make you or break you when it comes to getting the word out about your products and/or services. Here’s how to create a positive relationship with the media.
1. Know Their Deadlines – Learn the different deadlines that your contacts work under and always seek to meet them. The press works under very stringent guidelines and if you want to be involved you’ll need to know them.
2. Return Their Calls – If they contact you and you miss it, always return calls or emails. Even if you can’t be of help at that particular time, sometimes just being willing is all it takes to get quoted.
3. Build Relationships – Don’t just reach out to contacts when you want them to do something for you. Reach out when you can do something for them too and sometimes just to socialize and have lunch.
4. Answer Their Questions – When the press does call you about something, be sure to answer their questions or send them to someone who can so that you can be known as someone who is willing to be available to them.
5. Be a Willing Resource – Humans are typically lazy and the press is no different. They like to take the easy way to get the information they need to do a story. Be the resource that is always open to giving them the information they need.
6. Do Your Research – It’s important to do enough research about the press to know exactly who to talk to and when. Plus, it’s important to understand how they like to get their news and the right people to send the news to.
7. Learn Sound Bites – The trick to being quotable is to learn to think and talk in sound bites so that the press can easily package your quotes and use them. The less they need to edit what you say, the more likely they are to use your quotes.
8. Don’t Exaggerate or “Spin” – While some puffery is expected in marketing and advertising, it is not something you should participate in with the press in terms of building a positive relationship with them.
As long as you seek to make yourself a resource to them, rather than to seek to use them for your own benefit, the press will be there for you when you need them. Creating a positive relationship with the media requires very little additional work on your part and will pay off in big ways. It’s worth it to do all you can to work with them in every way that you can.