You already know that the media is the best avenue for promoting your business, because it adds credibility to your message, positions you as the expert, and best of all…it’s free. So you’ve done a few interviews and gotten quoted in a few articles, but those just left you hungry for more. Now, how do you expand on the contacts you’ve already made? The key to getting more exposure is to build relationships with the media professionals.
A steady media contact is like a key to the city of free publicity. Reporters will actually start calling you for interviews and quotes instead of the other way around. But developing such relationships is not that simple; they take work on your part. The good news is that when you master these relationships, you’ll find them to be much easier for publicity than convincing a new media person that your message deserves to be heard. Use the following tips for building your relationships with the media:
Give Excellent Phone Interviews
In dealing with the media, most of your interviews will take place over the phone. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to give a good first impression. Yes, you can wear jeans and a sweatshirt for your afternoon call, or even interview at a messy desk, but you can’t sound incompetent. When the reporter can’t see you, they will draw all their conclusions about you from your tone of voice and your word choices, so don’t take these interviews lightly.
Before the interview, prepare for the call. Take time for yourself and write down the main points you’d like to cover. Use this as an opportunity to relax, collect your thoughts, and make a few notes on a 3×5 card. Avoid reading scripted responses from a pre-printed sheet. You want to sound natural and honest, plus the reporter will always be able to tell when you’re reading. Also, seek a quiet spot for the interview. If your office is noisy and busy, close yourself off in a room without distractions. With a few notes ready and all your distractions put away, you won’t struggle through the interview; you’ll sound relaxed and confident.
When the phone rings and the interview starts, stand up and smile while you talk. Standing, like you’re giving a live presentation, raises your energy level and you’ll be more alert than if you were sitting. Additionally, a genuine smile radiates through the phone line, and the reporter on the other end will feel the joy in your voice. Both these techniques can make the difference between a mundane interview and a great conversation. They build a rapport that influences the reporter to keep you in mind for future stories.
Another way to build a relationship in a phone interview is to be respectful and show the reporter that you care. Ask them if you’re talking too quickly, because reporters always take notes by hand. Slow down your pace so they don’t miss any points. Also, ask nicely if they will mention your business information. Don’t be pushy; remember, the reporter decides how much room you get in their story. And never request a copy of the story for your approval. The reporter doesn’t answer to you. But don’t be afraid to show interest by asking for a copy of the magazine or a tape of the show after publication or broadcast.
As the interview starts to wrap up, inquire about other stories the reporter is currently covering. Explain how you may be able to add to them and offer a unique angle that may interest their audience. Let the reporter know that they can call you back if they have any questions, or provide them with other sources. And show them that you’re eager to be an accessible source of information in the future.
Add Integrity to Your Message
Reporters love accurate sources with factual information. By conveying your message with integrity, you can score a space on their contact list. Start by sticking to the facts. Don’t overload the reporter with tons of unnecessary information, and always back up your claims with numbers. For example, instead of saying, “A majority of my clients…,” try, “Eighty-five percent of my clients…” And always be forthright. If you want to be quoted in their story, don’t answer a question by saying, “You’ll get the answer to that when you buy my product.”
Never be afraid to give too much information away. Many times, people fear that if they give meaty details about their business, then no one will need it. In reality, this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make with the media. Think about it like this: In a one-page article, you might get two or three quotes. Or, if you’re on a radio or television segment, you might get three minutes of actual talk time. There’s no way you can ruin your wealth of knowledge in that small space. Remember, the more people get, the more they want, and it’s the same for the media. When you provide them with tons of information, they’ll be sure to come back for more because you practically gave them the first story.
Personal experiences also add integrity to your message. They place you in the real world, doing real actions, rather than just sitting on the set of a television show, or on the other end of the phone line. Reporters love to hear firsthand accounts relating to the topic. Your experiences add a personal, unique touch to the story. You also want the reporter to know you’re an approachable person, so laugh with them and be friendly. Personal experiences differentiate you from all the other interviews. So use a good story, and the media will remember you in the future.
Finally, always speak with authority. Don’t use weak language like, “I think,” or “maybe,” and use the word, “you” as often as possible. Add benefit statements to your facts and eliminate technical jargon and out-of-date phrases. Not everyone knows as much about your topic as you, so always explain things as if for the first time. You want the reporter to understand so they can convey your message to their audience.
Look Your Best
The television world revolves around physical appearances. So when you get booked for a TV show, your appearance is everything. How you sit or stand will send a message about you as a person, and about your business…so make sure the message is the right one.
First, you have to plan what to wear. As a general rule, think basic. Women should stick with simple suits, blouses, and tailored dresses. Keep the busy prints, accessories, and jewelry to a minimum. True colors, like blue, green, and grey are more flattering than black, white, and red, which make you look washed-out. You want all the attention to be on your face, not on your wild outfit. Finally, go for natural fabrics like wool, cotton, and linen so you’re more comfortable.
Men should plan for basics as well. Wear dark, but not black, suits paired with lighter shirts. Avoid shirts or ties with patterns, as they may look funny on screen. Red or burgundy ties are best. Again, wear natural fabrics, like wool and cotton, for comfort. Essentially, simple clothing keeps your face and your message at the center of attention.
You already know that the media is the best avenue for promoting your business, because it adds credibility to your message, positions you as the expert, and best of all...it's free. So you've done a few interviews and gotten quoted in a few articles, but those just left you hungry for more. Now, how do you expand on the contacts you've already made? The key to getting more exposure is to build relationships with the media professionals.
About the Author:
Pam Lontos is President of PR/PR, a public relations firm that has recently placed clients in The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, Cosmopolitan, Forbes, and USA Today. As the former VP of Disney's Shamrock Broadcasting and author of the upcoming book, I See Your Name Everywhere, she knows how to get you great publicity to boost your business. Call for a free consultation at (407) 299-6128, and sign up for a free publicity tips e-newsletter at www.prpr.net.