If you want to be a Publicity Hound, you need to know how to work with the media. Specifically, how to be a valuable source.
Here are 10 ways to get in the media’s good graces.
- Understand that the media owe you nothing. It is not their job to sell your book, draw a large audience for your speaking engagement, get you a consulting contract, or help you sell your products and services. Rather, it’s their job to publish newspapers and magazines that will entice people to subscribe, and encourage advertisers to spend money on ads. See “Craigslist: A Valuable Publicity Tool.” The radio and TV media need to book compelling, controversial shows that draw listeners and boost ratings. See How to Get on the Local TV News Tomorrow.
- Be accessible. If a reporter calls you, return the call within 15 minutes, if possible, even if you don’t know what they want. Wait a day or two to return a phone call and you might miss your chance to be in their story or on their show. Be sure reporters have your office, home and cellphone numbers.
- Make it easy for them to do their jobs. That means offering background material that might help, such as a print or electronic media kit. See “Craigslist: A Valuable Publicity Tool.” It means scheduling interviews during times that are most convenient for them, not for you. It also means asking every media person you meet, “How can I help you?”
- Keep all promises. If you promise an editor you will submit an opinion column by a certain date and that it will be the 500 words he has requested, keep your promise.
- Stay in touch regularly without being a pest. It’s OK to call or e-mail media people once every few months. Any more than that—unless you have something really valuable to offer—and you might be branded as a pest. See “Craigslist: A Valuable Publicity Tool.”
- Understand that no means no. If they aren’t interested in your idea, don’t try to change their minds.
- After an interview, don’t ask a reporter if you can read the story before it’s printed. The answer will be no—at least from most reputable publications. It’s perfectly acceptable, however, to ask the reporter to read your quotes back to you. Most reporters will agree to do this.
- Don’t agree to be interviewed, then cancel because you changed your mind. The reporter will never call you again.
- Suggest follow-up stories to reporters who cover you. The media love to tell readers “the rest of the story.” If, for example, a newspaper reporter writes about your new book, and the book later is featured on “Oprah,” be sure to let them know. See “Craigslist: A Valuable Publicity Tool.”
- Don’t give the print media gifts, either to entice them to write about you or to thank them for coverage. Many media outlets have ethics policies prohibiting reporters from accepting items of value. Other media are prohibiting freebies. Holiday greeting cards are fine, however. And thank-you notes after you have received coverage are much-appreciated. Food is fine, however, when working with the broadcast media.
Need More Help Being a Great News Source?
“Craigslist: A Valuable Publicity Tool.” shows you how to write succinct, compelling pitch letters that get results. Includes sample pitch letters.
“Craigslist: A Valuable Publicity Tool.” explains how to position yourself as the type of expert who “Nightline,” “20/20” and “Today” contact when they want a pithy quote or a longer interview.
Trade Show PR: How to Rise Above the Noise Level shares the secrets of how to catch the attention of busy reporters who are sniffing out stories about new trends, products and personalities at industry trade shows.