Dealing with the media
PR can be invaluable but how do you get it right?
Editorial coverage in magazines, newspapers and online is often far more valuable than advertising. But how do you get your business on the front page? Hiring a PR agency to get your name out there can be extremely effective, but first you must consider whether this is a necessary expense. You may well have the facilities to take care of this in-house.
You want to approach publications aimed at your customer base, which will depend on whether your organisation is B2B or B2C (business to business or business to consumer). Making contacts and establishing good relationships with journalists at these titles can work wonders, and you will facilitate this by making their life easier.
A common way of getting media coverage is through the circulation of press releases to relevant publications. When doing so, get to the crux of the matter in the first line and always include a quote and reliable contact details. Follow up press releases, but ask if it’s a good time to talk first. If you sense they are trying to let you down gently, ask whether it is the type of story they generally cover, if not, is there any way it could be tailored to their needs? Be polite and accommodating, and once you have built up a rapport or struck gold with contacts that are getting you coverage, use sparingly and effectively.
If you’re not the strongest of communicators, appoint someone senior in the organisation as a spokesperson. This should be a trusted person who will talk positively about the business and is able to stay calm under pressure. When preparing for an interview, think about the key messages you want to get out there, pre-empt questions and prepare some soundbites. Don’t say anything you don’t want printed or succumb to the temptation to lie, it’s not worth the damage it could do to your reputation.
Perhaps most importantly, make sure you explain everything thoroughly and clearly. Don’t use jargon, and make sure they understand completely what you’re saying. If a crisis hits and you’re thrust unexpectedly into the spotlight, it’s best to make yourself available for comment. Shunning the media suggests that you have something to hide.