I have been in journalism for 20+ years. I have found that every good business has a story, but not every entrepreneur behind that good business knows how to sell that story to the media. Consequently, some businesses never get media attention while others seem to be favorite resources.
While blogging, creating YouTube videos, your own Internet radio show, video podcast, and RSS feeds are great ways to gain exposure, and being quoted in a traditional news source adds more credibility. Becoming the “go-to expert” on a media list can equate to powerful exposure.
Utilizing the media to grow your business is nothing new. All businesses can benefit from the exposure and attention as the media turns to companies and entrepreneurs for expert advice daily. So, get your message to them as well as to your audience. Here are 10 tips to get your story to the media.
1. Network with reporters. Just as it’s always good to know a great attorney, it’s also good to know a news reporter or brand journalist. Follow them on social media. Contribute ideas for stories not just on your company but on topics in the industry your company is in. If you post comments and begin feeding them unique and interesting stories, you’ll find that reporters will eagerly welcome your posts, emails, and even calls. Don’t waste their time. Be direct and offer pertinent and timely information.
2. Pitch your story and make it matter to many. The story you pitch has to have widespread interest coupled with a personal aspect. Don’t just pitch your company and/or product. Instead, offer help first, information that will benefit the news media audience. Then show how the personal element of the story plays a vital part of that story. Essentially, you’re storyboarding the report for them.
3. Make it easy to locate the “go-to expert” in your company for an interview. I have called companies for interviews and been told “We’d love to do this story but the only person who can do the interview is our CEO and he won’t be back for a few hours.” What a shame. I was on deadline as a TV reporter, so I would have to find another “go-to expert” and get my story filed that same day. The other company got the free publicity because that company had a “go-to expert” ready and willing to speak to the media. Educate your team on newsworthy topics and train them how to talk to the media. Make sure, at the very least, that your top tier of management is prepared to do an interview with a reporter. Also, make sure that your front office knows what to do when the media calls. Savvy companies have media procedure policies in place. The front office doesn’t just send an inquiry from a reporter into a CEOs voice mailbox. Instead, the receptionist gets the information from the reporter, locates the appropriate person for the interview, follows up with the reporter via email and/or telephone, which gives the company ample opportunity to get free publicity through traditional media. Unfortunately, I can’t count the number of times that successful connection didn’t happen because the company didn’t have media procedure policies in place or the receptionist/staff couldn’t be bothered with a call from a reporter (because it wasn’t viewed as a sales call). How silly! That call could have generated extraordinary publicity and future sales.
4. Have real clients and people available that the media can interview. It’s vital to have past clients that you can recommend for the media to interview. Make sure you’ve pre-screened these clients and know that they can do a quality interview. Nothing is more frustrating than getting a lead for an interview from a company and then having the interview be awful because the referred client isn’t articulate or refused the interview.
5. Think like a journalist before you pitch to a reporter. Here’s the point–not every company has a juicy tale to tell, so that’s where creativity comes into play. You have to Think Like A Journalist before you pitch a story to a reporter. If you’re pitching a story to a TV reporter, think about what video the reporter would use to tell the story. Some good stories are turned down (or get very little air time) on TV because there just isn’t any compelling video to accompany the story. It’s like saying you’ve got a good face for radio! Sometimes the story is simply better for print or radio. But if you can help the reporter understand the visuals, there’s a greater chance your story will make it on TV.
6. Use statistics in your press release. The media loves to throw statistics into news stories. Think about books and titles–statistics and numbers are easier to comprehend.
[This video was created for a rug company. It starts with a news hook: how much do college grads spend on home decor? That could easily be a news story that would interest traditional media. While the news media wouldn’t give the company the direct promotional exposure that this story does, it might easily decide to do a story based on the news angle and interview the rug company for expert information to include in the story.]
7. Talk in short sound bites, even for print stories. Even though today there are much longer stories featured on the Internet, it’s still necessary to get to the point when being interviewed. If you succinctly convey your thoughts when you are being interviewed by a reporter, there is less chance of much of your interview winding up on the cutting room floor. Too many interviewees go on and on in an interview and say the same thing over again in different ways. What the interviewee doesn’t realize is that much of it will be edited out anyway. It’s likely the reporter will succinctly paraphrase your long-winded answer (giving you less print space or air time) in an effort to make the story easier to understand and to fit the time constraints.
8. Be natural, not overly rehearsed. Canned speeches sound terrible and so does an overly-coached interviewee. Be relaxed, natural, and talk at a good, easy-to-understand pace. If you have never been interviewed by the media, it’s a good idea to hire a media coach for a few pointers. The coaching helps not only with speaking to the media but also can help you in everyday presentations to clients.
9. Go for it! The reason a lot of companies don’t get called by the media is because the media doesn’t know about the company. If you want free publicity from the media, you have to become a “notable resource” to the media by producing your own brand journalism content and then releasing it to the media as well as your targeted audiences.
10. Now, go Think Like A Journalist and increase exposure and your business!
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Phoebe Chongchua is a multimedia Brand Journalist who teaches: Think Like A Journalist, To Increase Your Bottom Line. She is also the Host of The Brand Journalism Advantage Podcast which features interviews with thought leaders from around the globe on marketing, brand journalism, and entrepreneurship. After 15 years in TV News as an Anchor/Reporter, Phoebe founded PCIN.TV. The Internet TV Station airs video stories from her online publications: Live Fit Magazine and The Plant-Based Diet as well as curates content from other sources. As a brand storyteller, Phoebe produces business videos, articles, and photos to engage consumers and create brand evangelists. Learn more:TheBrandJournalismAdvantage.com
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