I came across a recent Inc. article in which reporter Minda Zetlin talks about what you might be doing wrong if you can’t get the media’s attention:
This piece resonated with me because a) this is what I help clients do every day and b) it has some great reminders for those trying to do PR themselves—or even for those who have help, but don’t seem to get why their PR person can’t get them ink.
Point 1: Assuming a journalist has the same agenda as you:
I often view the job of the PR pro to get the client the opportunity to speak with a reporter. Once the interview’s taken place, it’s out of our hands. It does happen sometimes that while the reporter seemed interested in the story at the time of the interview, their editor may not be as interested. It may be a timing issue—perhaps the space planned for the article was cut. There are many reasons, in fact, why an interview may not lead to an article. If it doesn’t, this isn’t the fault of the PR person (and sometimes, not the reporter).
Point 2: Lying to yourself about what is and isn’t newsworthy:
This is what I help clients determine. Many times, something the client thinks is very much headline material simply isn’t. In these cases, it’s better to wait to contact the reporter or issue the press release until something more newsworthy comes up. You don’t want to waste reporters’ precious time by pitching story ideas that cause them to yawn as they delete your email.
Point 3: Staying relentlessly “on message:”
Even I preach to clients to prepare their “nuggets” of key information before an interview, but she makes a valid point here. You have to be willing to branch off in other directions, if that’s where the interview goes. If the reporter wants your expert commentary on a topic related to, but not directly on, what your company does, it’s OK to comment and not try to constantly steer the conversation back to your key messages. As she mentions, she’s more likely to quote you if you provide more bits of useful information versus less.
Point 4: Not being available.
This one I could absolutely rant about! NEVER—and I do mean NEVER!—be too busy to speak with a reporter in a timely fashion. If you’re lucky enough to get their time, take it! Do whatever it takes to make yourself available. Keep in mind how busy reporters are, how many companies are competing for their limited time and mindshare and how much that real estate is worth in their piece. And, let’s not even talk about cancelling or not showing up….the cardinal sins of media relations.
Read Minda’s piece in Inc. for all her valuable tips on what not to do when it comes to PR.