Posts Tagged ‘media management’

DOs and DON’Ts When Facing the Media

As PR professionals we speak to media representatives all the time, but it CAN be a tricky skill to master, which is why I thought it opportune to share a few insights about what PR people should and should not say when speaking to reporters.

Bear in mind reporters often call when PR people are on the hop and inevitably when the journalist is close to deadline, and in the pursuit of a story have been known to trip up even the savviest of operators.

For this reason, once your media release has gone out – be aware that you have invited the media into your world and they may well come knocking, which is a good thing.

So, once you have piqued their interest, the people at PR Daily have done some interesting work on the key phrases PR people need to use when dealing with the media.  They were so apt and timely, I thought I would share them with you.

Things PR People SHOULD say:

1. “I’ll start on this immediately.”  When you get a request from a journalist, it must be treated as a priority task because with news, as with most things in life, timing is everything.  If you deal with a reporter’s request speedily and with accuracy and completeness it may well develop into a relationship that is mutually beneficial into the future as they may come to rely on you as a regular and reliable ‘source’ for stories.

2. “Here’s an update…”  If the story is developing rapidly, or if you are still waiting on key pieces of info, there is nothing to be lost by giving them a progress report on what information you do have, and which pieces you are still working on.  This is a good faith gesture that reminds them that you are on the case.

3.I can coordinate visuals.” With TV, print and online reporters this is a crucial extra step than can ensure that your story gets picked up while others, that might not have the additional element of an engaging visual, might not make the cut.

4.I liked your coverage of _____.” Being knowledgeable of a reporter’s ‘beat’ or area of expertise is respectful and shows that you know your stuff, and proves that you are not taking the old ‘scatter gun’ approach to contacting the media, but rather that you have put some thought into it, and are targeting them specifically, which they will appreciate.

Conversely there are some pitfalls to avoid when speaking to reporters, so for completeness here are the top 4 things PR people should NOT say to journalists

1.Did you get my press release?” For a journo, this is a total non-starter.  If you sent the media release, chances are they got it, and are calling you as a result.  They are calling you for information that is not readily available, to draw out the story and to see what unique or interesting angles they can pursue.  Have faith in the strength of your story angle but be flexible to develop it with them. And don’t beg.

2. “What types of articles do you run?” It is your job to know which reporters you are pitching your story to, and their areas of interest.  If getting your story into their publication is important, then you should already know this info before you speak to them.

3. “This is a perfect fit for you.” As well as being presumptuous, this line is unhelpful – it is not for you to decide if this is the right story for their publication. That is the role of the reporter and their editor or sub-editor.  Don’t tell them how to do their job, just help them to do it.

4. “You’ll have to be quick; I don’t have much time” Journalists work with real time pressure – it is a job requirement and a reality of every publication.  Your deadlines are not their problem, but the need for you to work with their deadline IS important.  Be respectful of their timeframe and try your best to meet it.  Be as helpful and timely as you can in providing information and check what format they require supporting materials – images, video, audio, interviews… whatever it might be.

All of the above is salient advice, and in the context of the ongoing cutbacks on the number of journalists working here in our Australian market, the need for efficient inter-relationships between journalists and PR practitioners has never been so important.  A GOOD PR firm will manage these relationships deftly and with great aplomb, thereby marking themselves out as genuine professionals.  If you need a referral to an agency like that, I think I might just know of one 😉

Yours in PR



Tips for Boards When Dealing With the Media

In previous posts I have discussed how invaluable it can be to have a Board – in my case an Advisory Board – to assist the overall direction of the business.
My Board members are supportive and helpful, but I got to thinking perhaps this is not always the case.  This is particularly tricky in a high-profile organisation where there is a great deal of media interest in the company’s activities, and you and your Board members are the subject of media interest and scrutiny.

While there is no question that media training for Board members is very important (I would say it is critical, actually!) but in the meantime,  I came across an article by Tony Featherstone (former editor of BRW and Shares magazine) that touches on many of the key points concerning how Board members should interact with the media.

You can read the entire article in full at the Australian Company Directors website but I wanted to just extract a few key points for you.

Rule #1:  Speak with One voice – Tony advises for Board members to never break the confidence of the boardroom.
Rule #2: Never break Rule #1

Media management is tricky, as the journalist rarely is interested in your carefully prepared talking points or key messages. They will ask questions looking for something topical, controversial, trying to niggle to find out if there are tensions or divisions within the Board on one issue or another, not to cause trouble, but to generate a story.

The problem is, the story they want to write will not be the one you want them to write as no-one wants to read about differences of opinion, power struggles or conflicts or the leak of confidential information.  Or about that big new project that you are not ready to announce quite yet.

I strongly recommend that if you are a Board Member, or are thinking of appointing one, it is well worthwhile reading Tony’s article in full.  Let me stress here that while hiring a firm like Publicity Queen to handle your media can be a good strategic decision, you don’t necessarily need to outsource this function: if you are smart and careful, and if you observe the rules mentioned above concerning confidentiality and discretion, you can do this yourself.

If however, you would like to avoid the stress and pressure of handling media enquiries, give me a call, we are always happy to help! 🙂

Publicity QueenYours in PR,

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