So we all want our stories to be seen in relevant and influential media, on a consistent basis. But before that ideal and lovely morning dawns, there is much to be done and done correctly. Here’s a ready-reckoner which should help in achieving the twin goals of good stories and consistent visibility for the client.
The following is a list of the sort of things to avoid when interacting with the media. These are fairly straight forward and are points that will often strike you anyway; however, some of these may make or break your pitch.
- Don’t be nervous – as it obviously conveys a lot of insecurity.
- Don’t rush through your pitch – be lucid, unhurried and informative. Rushing through will convey nervousness all over again.
- Don’t be too familiar, thinking you are friends, you may get rebuffed – a friendship may be struck after a while, keep the relationship as professional as possible, as being too friendly can land any of the two involved in a spot.
- Don’t call the same person too often – it can become irritating and also look desperate; almost as though that’s the only journalist your circle of influence extends to.
- Don’t call on the slightest reason; consult your team leader/senior first.
- Don’t call EDITORS and pitch RELEASES – that’s a golden rule, NOT to be broken; unless by chance it merits the need to do so. It is something on which a call has to be taken by your team leader and/ or senior colleagues who can give correct advice, based on experience.
- Don’t promise what you’re not sure of delivering – in case you can’t for any reason deliver what you say, don’t say it. The media will expect the moon and more, so tread cautiously.
- Avoid using language that is overly bureaucratic – you need to come across professional, approachable, friendly, but draw a line at being overly so. However sounding like the government or a communique is completely the wrong approach.
- Don’t say you’ll just take a minute and go on forever – everyone including you has time constraints, so use the time when you talk or meet the media judiciously. Also if doing it via mail, don’t send two pages! Just a crisp paragraph or two will do, and always provide your contact details.
- Don’t assume that the journalist will know YOU, your agency, your client and their activities or the spokespersons. Always use the conversation to first inform, present and then move ahead, basis interest levels. Being presumptuous and thinking that your pitch, client and you are the most important can be a turn off, as the media and you could be working at cross purposes.
- Saying ‘I will get back to you’ displays that you are eager to help; so then, GET BACK TO THE JOURNALIST, don’t forget – keep to your word.
- In case you’re working on a crisis situation, don’t hide the problem; the media will never trust you again – as is most cases, the truth shall prevail and you don’t want to end up looking scared, silly or incapable of handling a crisis. Also any cover –up or even a lie will get exposed soon enough and then you may be battling a larger crisis.
- Attacking the competition – don’t do this -Companies who attack their competition or try to spread malicious rumors don’t make the competition look bad, they make themselves look bad. Focus on what you do well, and ignore the competition. If you really are better, your reputation and the quality of your work will speak for itself.
- Falsifying facts -Integrity is essential in reporting. If a media outlet is caught lying to its readers, it’s very hard to earn their trust again, regardless of whether it was done on purpose. If you falsify facts and a media outlet finds out about it—or worse—they’re called out on it, good luck getting any media coverage from them or any of their sister companies ever again.
- Not building relationships – Business in general is about relationships. Journalists are just like any other people and any other business. They pay back the people who are interested in them as people, so be sure to build relationships with the key reporters and outlets in your industry. Social media has made it easier than ever to make those connections. Go connect.
- Ignoring local media – We all want to be associated with Karan Thapar, Shereen Bhan or Walk the Talk, but don’t forget about your local media. For one thing, the local media loves to support local businesses. They’re also the people in the trenches networking in the community day in and day out. You want them on your side. You also want to benefit from their success as they move through the ranks. Every big shot you see today had to start somewhere. They will remember you and you will hopefully build a relationship strong enough, as the two of you progress in your fields.
Written by Aseem Bhargava for Image Management