Media Relations Strategies: Talking to Reporters

The media can have a strong influence on how people view your business. Professional athletes are governed by a code of conduct when dealing with the media in an attempt to create a positive image with fans through said media. Here we will look at media relations on a smaller scale, using examples a small business owner may commonly encounter.

Here’s how it works. Your local media needs stories and you need publicity. If you are working without a budget for public relations then the local media should be your best friend. Many business owners are not experienced in dealing with the media, however local media is an invaluable source of promotion for your company. Lets look at some things to remember when dealing with the media.

  • Find something to say: Should you call a media outlet simply with “I’d like you to do a story about my business”. You’ll only be wasting that person’s time. Why do they want to do a story about your business? Always put yourself in the reporter’s position, and have a story about your business that you think people will be interested in before contacting someone. Think of it as a sales pitch, with the customer being the reporter and the product being your story.  In other words, make them want to buy your story.
  • Treat the person well: If a reporter does agree to meet with you, don’t make them wait. Don’t cancel unless absolutely necessary and when they do get there it won’t hurt to have refreshments. They are taking the time to meet with you and even though it is their job to write about your business- what they write is up to them. When they sit down to complete their final draft do you want them to think well of you or remember that you stood them up?
  • Don’t lie: Even if information about your business may be reflecting poorly don’t make something up. Simply tell the truth and offer up an explanation for any shortcomings that may exist. Being caught in a lie will be much worse than anything you feel you need to cover up. We all remember what Oprah did to James Frey after it was learned he fabricated facts in his memoir titled “A Million Little Pieces”.
  • After the story appears send a thank you letter: Again, while it is the reporter’s job to write stories he is also a person who will respond to things the way a regular person would. A nice thank-you note will not only show appreciation, but help solidify an ongoing/future relationship with her or him.