Media exposure: The more you get, the more likely it is you’ll be successful. In fact, studies show over 80% of consumers are more likely to trust brands they see in the news. Basically, whatever the media pays attention to, people pay attention to. And you want that to be you and your business. Today on Moxie Talk I’m going to dive into the nuances of media relations and you can make them work for you.
Hi everyone, I’m Fia Fasbinder and welcome to Moxie Talk where we help you find your voice, share your message, and lead with confidence. Before I get started, don’t forget to subscribe and hit that alert button to be the first to hear about our latest episodes.
The first thing I want to do is define media relations and how it is different from public relations—here’s your clue: it’s in the name. The goal of media relations is to communicate your message to the media with the hope it’ll get published through their various outlets like radio, television, and social media. Public relations on the other hand is how you communicate to the public. While the two are interconnected, I’m going to focus on how to establish the best relationship possible with the media to get them on your side. Which, by the way, often does wonders for your public relations. So let’s start off with the first step, pitching to the media.
Which sounds better? Spending thousands and thousands hiring a team of promoters and marketers spread the word about your business, or getting a media outlet with an audience of millions to do it for free? That is the big payoff for pitching to the media for coverage. If your story is newsworthy, then all the hard work is done for you after a few interviews.
Of course, this comes with some risk. You want to make sure that the right message reaches the media. One that will get their attention but won’t do any harm to your public image. We all know celebrities and companies that have seen their reputation destroyed overnight by a single story—or even just a bad tweet! I did a whole video on crisis communication if you’re interested in learning about how to handle those situations. But with that said, if you do the work upfront, you’re more likely to experience the opposite effect. A great story that boosts your reputation and your bottom line.
It’s important to remember that the more exposure you have, the more your business comes under scrutiny. Before reaching out you want to make sure you know who is responsible for speaking with, and to, the media. Whether it’s you or someone else, there needs to be a unified message about what your company stands for.
The first step starts with you. If you’re the CEO or a principal decision maker, it’s critical that you take a moment to look at yourself.
- Do you truly understand who you are and what you represent?
- What about your company? Do you really know what it stands for? What core principles drive it?
- What’s your grasp of business ethics? Or ethics in general?
- How is your sense of social responsibility? Do you really believe that what you say and do has an impact on the world around you? Do you care?
Now, once you’ve answered these questions about yourself, you need to answer them regarding the team of people around you. If you’ve got people that don’t know or don’t care about what your business stands for, you don’t want these people speaking to the media on your brand’s behalf.
Make it a practice with yourself and your colleagues to stop a second and think before every media relations situation. Any time that you’re going to be in front of a microphone or a camera, just think.
What will be the aftermath of every word and action? Taking just a moment to think can save your months of bad press and lost business.
The process of pitching to the media is relatively simple. You throw a story at your media outlet of choice and see if it sticks. The bigger factors will be if you can answer the big so what?
Journalists are pressed for time and have deadlines to meet. So they’re going to want to know in a hurry what makes your story newsworthy and what makes it worth their time personally. Count on having to dig into your persuasion and presentation skills in order to make it more likely that they will pay attention to your story. Craft a hook, build value into the story, and cast your line. It’s easier if you have someone show you how to do it.
If nobody has ever nailed it down, when you see a prominent individual standing before a group of journalists and reporters as they ask questions, you’re witnessing a press conference. The daily news is full of statements by personalities made at specific dates and places. Those happened during press conferences.
More often than not, press conferences are scheduled and take place with structure and order. Without press conferences, leaders and celebrities would have a hard time keeping in touch with the world. So they actually play an important role in society as a whole.
There’s nothing wrong with deciding to sit down with just one journalist, but sitting down with a group will get information moving faster.
Especially if there are issues against your person or your business, press conferences can help you clean up matters in one fell swoop. Even during trouble-free times, press conferences help you control the general view of your brand. And it even serves as a good alternative to advertising.
The kicker is that whoever talks to the media at the press conference will have to bring their A-game as a public speaker. You could be on camera. You could be in front of a microphone. Whoever speaks on behalf of your brand will need to showcase some executive presence to come across as confident, in charge, and trustworthy in front of an audience.
How you speak is just as important as what you say. This will make all the difference if you get a reporter that wants to ask uncomfortable or rude questions. It will be up to you to keep delivering a positive message regardless of the intent of the reporters.
This will be doubly critical during volatile situations. That’s when even subtle nuances of tone and body language will be amplified. The only way to be truly prepared in such a case would be through proper coaching.
Such precautions aside, arranging and leading a press conference can be broken down into the steps below. And while it’s likely you won’t be the person organizing this, it’s important to have an understanding of what’s expected so you can ensure your brand puts it’s best foot forward:
- Schedule the date and time
- Pick the location
- Select and properly train who will be speaking (more on this below)
- Contact the media you wish to have the conference with
- Follow up with the media with phone calls
- Develop a press kit
- Make sure the room is prepared with chairs, sound equipment, and refreshments
When the actual event commences,
- Have everyone sign in and give them a press kit
- Record the event for your own reference or use
- Participants shouldn’t go over 5 minutes in their presentation
- Participants shouldn’t talk about more than 3-5 points
- Entertain questions after everyone has spoken and let the participants speak for themselves
- Bring things to a conclusion after about 45 minutes
The Value of a Skilled Spokesperson
Are you a company spokesperson? Even if you aren’t right now that could change in the future as you level up in your career or start your own business. Either way, the responsibility is of utmost importance. You are the sole gatekeeper of your brand’s reputation. A weighty responsibility, true, but a necessary one. A spokesperson humanizes a company. You give your company and your brand, a face, and a personality.
People are more likely to warm up to someone rather than something. You make a brand or a company friendlier and more personable, trustworthy. You turn your company from an IT into a WE.
This calls on the spokesperson to wear several different hats:
- Industry expert
- Media specialist
- The most likeable person in the room
These three roles combine to reduce the psychological barrier between a brand and the target audience.
The surest way to fill these shoes in the exact manner you need to is to get personalized media training. No two brands are alike and no two spokespersons are alike. Representing a company or a brand isn’t a mechanical role that anyone can step into like putting together parts on an assembly line.
Oftentimes, spokespersons have to be available 24 hours a day to react to potentially sensitive stories. Knowing how to prepare and how to think on your feet are essential parts of your toolkit.
How to be a Spokesperson
In short, being a spokesperson is really a matter of refining your public persona to blend with the company’s overall desired image and artfully convey that to the public. Constantly. The bigger the company, the bigger the spotlight and the busier the spokesperson.
Here are some tips for being the best face of the company you can possibly be.
A spokesperson is considered (and expected to be) a thought leader. If you’re going to be a source of facts and information, you’re going to have to have a steady diet of information about your audience, your industry, your company, your product, and any issues that the day has thrown at you. Plan on spending time doing quality, in-depth research.
Which naturally leads to…
Know Your Audience
This is a special branch of research, especially in the context of media relations. Your audience is whoever you’re presenting to, which can include the media itself! A special form of research called audience analysis will help you figure out what to give the media so they will help tell your story your way and preserve your brand’s reputation.
Generally, journalists will appreciate two things. A firm, strong stance and a useful message.
Know How The Media Works
It’s easy to gloss over every media outlet as THE MEDIA. But these places are run by people with different personalities. You’re going to get a different flavor with each media outfit. And yet they all have to try to cover stories that are newsworthy.
So getting the media to cover your story is two-fold. You need to acquaint yourself with how the media in general sizes up stories, and you also need to get a feel for how an individual media outlet approaches their job. The best strategy is to research journalism and publishing so you can understand the perspectives and expectations of the media you’re reaching out to.
Many spokespersons already have experience in journalism, but If that isn’t a part of your background, some of the key spaces can be filled in with the help of a media training coach.
Never Stop Telling Your Story
The public tends to listen to who they hear from first and the most often. If you want to be the authority on your brand and control the narrative, you need to keep publishing to the world what your company is doing.
Of course, if you’re going to make the daily workings of a company interesting, you’re going to need to flavor things with some storytelling. There’s no shortage of ways to do this. Maybe report something from the perspective of a company worker instead of a dry recitation of events. Did they update the mainframe software again? What does that mean for the workers that use the intranet the most?
Has a large fan or piece of machinery been installed in the building? Do the nearest workers need earplugs now? You can make common business a bit more interesting by inserting storytelling wherever you can.
Remember, people can’t relate to huge faceless corporations. You’re here to make your company likeable and relatable. To that end, be sure to use words like “you” and “I.” Offer personal stories that will resonate with your audience.
Set Aside The Jargon
Some people insist on using jargon because it makes them sound superior. The rest of us just forget that the rest of the world doesn’t use the vocabulary we do outside of the office. This is important because it takes away from the feeling of “us” and “we” that you’re trying to foster with your audience.
The attention and interests of the public come and go like the tide, and the media is your surfboard. If you stay on top of watching trends, you can take advantage of releasing newsworthy items that coincide with or relate to things already gaining momentum in the news.
Show Some Emotion
Your humanity is a huge asset, since big corporations are fundamentally unrelatable. Any time you connect with your audience through your own humanity, you draw people closer to your brand.
Sure you can do this with stories, but you can also do this nonverbally. Any camera time you get is a chance to use body language to show that you’re not a corporate robot and convey the idea that everyone you represent is just like you.
Theory and practice are two halves of a whole. You’re missing out on a lot if you only have one. Seizing opportunities to practice your speaking techniques will do things for your skills that no book can.
But until such chances come along, you can rehearse what you know in private. When it’s showtime, you’ll already have everything you need to sound confident and on-point.
If you’ve read all of our media training blogs then congratulations. You’ve come a long way and amassed a great deal of knowledge through the series. Whether you’re trying to flag down the attention of the media, or you just want to be ready when you run into each other, you’ve laid a solid foundation for making the encounter count!
Feel free to reach out to us for more information or to get personalized coaching that will ensure every media appearance is a success!.
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