Successful marketing and public relations begins with understanding the media. It is mission critical to know what reporters and journalists are looking for when talking to them. This collaboration is fast-paced and rapidly changing, but it is also full of vital information that is beneficial to both parties.
However, the competition to get noticed, in the limited space available by these media outlets, is tougher than ever. You have to know whom to talk to, what to sell, and how to pitch it. If you can obtain a share of this valuable commodity, consider yourself lucky. You will have a tremendous competitive edge and sometimes even a decisive advantage if you have competitors closely matched in other areas.
Making That Media Connection
Talking to a member of the media is similar to a game of telephone. You are the professor reading your textbook (or in this case talking about something you know intimately) to someone who has not read it or has no working knowledge of the subject. This person then has to translate or explain what you said to their audience.
Unless your media contact has a complete understanding of what you are talking about, chances are he won’t be able to translate it into your words. The story won’t make sense and may include some inaccurate information. Before sitting down with any media outlet, make sure you know your subject matter and be able to explain it in a plain enough language so others will understand it.
Tips for Understanding and Working with the Media
Just as understanding the requirements of your market is vital in successfully selling your products or services, knowing the needs of the relevant media outlets is critical for your public relations or marketing efforts. Some ways you can improve your relationship with media outlets include:
· Learn more about your media contact: Whether it’s a reporter or other journalist, make sure you learn a little about his background. This will help build a long-term relationship. For instance, I recently told a client on Veteran’s Day that the report with whom I was meeting was a veteran. My client, a company CEO, thanked the veteran for his service and talked about the importance of serving our country. This immediately put the CEO and the reporter in a situation to build a lasting relationship.
· Understand the reporter’s intentions: Expectations are everything! Find out the reporter’s expectations at the beginning of the briefing and end the discussion with a summary and note that you met them. Think of it as a college exam blue book with more value!
· Don’t make up information: If you don’t know an answer to a question, then simply don’t answer it. Offer to find out the needed information if given the right amount of time.
· Be gracious: Media outlets are inundated with requests from marketing companies and public relations firms all over. If you are the one who is respectful of their time and bandwidth, you will get better results, attention, and story.
Remember the Golden Rule
You can do what you want and need to get your information out to the general public, but showing respect and honesty to your reporter are your best bet. Find out what makes him tick whether it be a love for technology, hard news, or even a deadline-driven mentality. Knowing these answers can help you tailor your briefing and get a better understanding of your media outlet’s needs.