A Guest Post by
âUm, Rosemary, Fox & Friends is on line one??â
Itâs every entrepreneur and every small business ownerâs dream, right? That phone call is awe-inspiring and exciting. But be careful what you wish for. Being in the center of a media scrum, even a friendly one, is stressful and demanding if youâre not ready for it.
Bottom line, if youâre sending out any sort of media communications (formal or informal press releases, or even company information on your website), you need to be ready in case lightning strikes.
Here are some tips for surviving your first bit of media attention.
- Be camera ready before you do a PR campaign – you never know if your release is going to click with a TV outlet, radio, or online. If you are due for a hair coloring, go do that before you send out the release.
- Get your talking points ready – you need to have a coherent message across numerous interviews. The best thing is to come up with two sentences that you absolutely want to get into the conversation; donât bog yourself down, but know what you want to say to the world.
What to say if they ask âis there anything youâd like to addâ – without fail, you will be asked at the end of the interview if you have anything else to say. Make sure you do have something to add, especially if thereâs something you wanted to get across that the interviewer didnât ask you about. Sometimes this tidbit will lead to further coverage or a whole new angle for the story.
- Be flexible – life on a media schedule is weird. With time zones, deadlines, and breaking news stories, you need to be ready to get up early (the morning shows in NYC are brutal if youâre on the West Coast), give interviews outside your sonâs basketball game, or get cancelled at the last minute. Thatâs the way the cookie crumbles.
- Follow up with a thank you note – this is a place where I fell down, and I wish someone had shared it with me beforehand. I was thinking that there was some taboo about thanking a journalist, because they are supposed to be impartial. Not true, they appreciate being thanked just like everyone else. You can stand out from the crowd by using your best manners.
- Press releases are (almost) dead – the two times we received major coverage stemmed from non-press release situations. Like any other small business, weâve been diligently putting out formal releases for years, with minimal return. Then, a dashed off, two-sentence note to a local blogger turns into two years of media attention, including NPR, Fox & Friends, CNN Headline news, etc.
- Media coverage has long legs – a year after the initial media scrum, I was contacted by NPR to do a followup radio story. That update sparked a renewed interest by a few new outlets. The internet makes your story live forever.
- Promote your media on your website – once youâve gotten some media attention, you should highlight it on your own web presence. You can ask the journalist for a DVD or audio clip of the interview, and you can often find it on the web as well. Putting these on your website gives you instant credibility.
- Find out topic and setting in advance – if you can do some advance homework for the interview, it will help. What is the topic and format? What color is the set? Who exactly will be conducting the interview?
- Get media training if you can – we were hit out of the blue, and had no thought of becoming âmedia ready.â Many of our staff members bravely spoke with the journalists who visited our office, but it would have been nice to have some minimal training beforehand. If you can afford it, and you plan a major PR blitz, it would be good to invest in some basic training. At the very least, do some Googling for tips.
- Be ready to wait – the journalists you are contacting are on their own crazy schedule. They will leave you a message saying they absolutely, must must must speak with you in the next 10 minutes, and then wait a day before returning your voice mail message. You need to be at peace with this fact, and you do need to return their call as quickly as possible.
These are some of the things I wish someone had told me before we got our 15 minutes. Good luck with your own media journeys, and if you have tips to add, please share in the comments!
Author’s Bio: Rosemary OâNeill is an insightful spirit who works for social strata — a top ten company to work for on the Internet . Check out their blog. You can find her on Twitter as @rhogroupee
Thank you, Rosemary!
ME “Liz” Strauss