Today, more than ever, companies and individuals are hoping to get media exposure – after all, they figure (and not unreasonably), that media exposure is “free” and media coverage tends to be more favorably perceived than the advertising messages we share about ourselves. As I work with clients, I come across a number of misperceptions or mis-steps that some inadvertently take that may hinder their PR-generating activities.
At Strategic Communications, LLC, we work with clients to help them gain exposure by coaching them through the process of creating, pitching and responding to reporter inquiries. Tick off a reporter once and the chances of connecting again in the future are slim. Here are some things to avoid:
- Don’t look for “free advertising.” Reporters aren’t out there to help you sell your products or services. What makes your story newsworthy? There’s usually a good angle in there somewhere, but you may need to take some time – and exercise some creativity – to find it.
- If responding to a reporter’s query (through ProfNet or HARO, for instance), don’t offer an “off-pitch” response to a specific request. If the reporter is looking for someone with small business lending experience, for example, don’t respond with a: “While I don’t have small business lending experience, I have…”
- Don’t be overly pushy. If the reporter isn’t interested in your story, the reporter isn’t interested in your story.
- Don’t pull a “bait and switch.” If you’ve agreed to provide information on a particular subject, don’t switch to an off-subject sales pitch for your product/service – or yourself – once you get the reporter on the phone.
- Don’t ask to see the story before it’s printed/aired. That will mark you immediately as a novice.
- Don’t harangue the reporter for copies – or links – to the published piece. If you get a copy, that’s a bonus. But recognize that reporters and editors talk to a lot of people and rarely have the time to follow up with all of them. With search technology these days, you should be able to find the coverage yourself.
DO remember that building strong relationships with reporters is the best way to see your name in print. Offer on-subject, useful information that is high on content and low on “sales-speak.” That’s the best way to ensure that you get your messages out there – and that reporters remember you for future stories.