How to Talk to the Media (Even When You Don't Want to)
By Sylvie Sadarnac-Studney
Have you watched too many well-meaning interviewees torn to bits on 60 Minutes? Heard your peers reel from being misquoted in the local paper? Do you worry that the media won't "get it" when it comes to your business?
Working with the media is no picnic. When done strategically, however, it has the power to increase your company's visibility, boost your status as an expert in your field and drive business to your door.
Having a strategy in place to get reporters to notice you is only the first step. Once they are interested, you need a plan to work with them effectively.
1. Do your homework
Know who you are talking to. The media is not monolithic: mainstream media reporters have become corporate employees who cover stories that "sell." Trade reporters also have an eye on the bottom line, but the specificity of their field makes them more receptive to industry experts and their pitches. To ensure that your message is clearly understood, speak the language of the media outlet you are targeting.
Learn about the reporter. Your PR counsel should provide you with an overview of that person's body of work, approach and pet peeves. When setting up an interview, don't be afraid to ask whether the reporter is planning to talk to other sources for the story, how much time he or she planned for the interview and what the format will be.
Remember whom you are trying to reach. The media is your third-party conduit to your target audiences. Who are they? What do they think of you? What do you need to tell them to affect their thinking in a way that will trigger positive results? View the reporter as a facilitator who can help you get your message across to your stakeholders, prospects and clients.