Why You Shouldn’t Fear the Media


Don’t trust the media!

I’ve heard this a million times and I’m not sure if it’s due to the over exaggerations we see in the movies of the aggressive reporter hiding in the bush, or if it is due to a bad past experience. Either way, I’m going to try to help you see the benefits that can come from working with the media.

During my days in the media, I would often call individuals to inquire about different topics and be greeted on the other end by someone who was absolutely terrified to speak with me.

Maybe it was a fear of speaking on TV or on the radio, or maybe they just didn’t want to have their picture in the paper.  Either way, it made me wonder what the possibilities would have been had they not shown such objection.

If fact, strong relationships with members of the media can be a huge benefit to your business or organization.  Many companies spend hours strategizing on how to get media coverage. That’s because PR is often viewed as being way more credible than paid advertising.

So I’ve compiled 5 things for you to consider in your attempt to build better media relations:

1. Learn who makes up the media  – The first thing you need to do is create a media list and determine who you want to get to know.  Most businesses already have these lists, but not many know the journalists on the list personally.  In fact many businesses just send emails with press releases attached without ever really taking the time to get to know the reporters on the receiving end.  That leads to my second point……

2. Build real relationships – The goal is to make authentic connections with members of the media. Remember, the media is not the enemy.  In fact, most are just like you – just trying to go to work each day and do their job.  They are open and willing to build relationships too.

3. Learn about their job – Find out what journalists do on a daily basis.  Get an understanding of their deadlines and responsibilities.

4. Create a win/win relationship – Offer to assist and provide insight on subjects when opportunities come up.  Many journalists keep a list of names of people they can contact for comments or analysis on different subjects.  Even if you don’t offer your services, most journalists end up calling on people they have relationships with. You too can be of assistance!

5. Be realistic – It is important to remember that even though you have taken the time to get to know members of the media on a personal level, at the end of the day, they still have a job to do.  A journalists first responsibility is to present an unbiased perspective of the story.  If you acknowledge this and still maintain a strong relationship regardless of how the story is written, you will be much further ahead!

Good luck and remember, the media is your friend!


How You Can Draw Media Attention as a Business Owner

Ever wonder why the business down the street is always in the newspaper or on the radio and your business isn’t?  I’m not referring to the advertising they may have purchased…..I’m referring to the news story featuring their business or some other on-air recognition they’ve received.

You may say they’re just lucky, but chances are, they’ve learned what makes them, or their business, newsworthy.  And they’ve taken the time to let reporters know about it – usually in the form of a media release.

Now it’s your turn.

There are five key elements that journalists refer to when deciding whether to cover a story or not.  The more of these elements you include in a press release or in an email to a reporter, the better your chances of having your business featured in the news.  I’m going to detail them first and then provide an example to tie it all together.

First, is your idea timely?  Essentially, is it new?  No one likes old news.  If it happened two months ago, no one cares.

Second, what is the proximity of your story idea?  As with most small businesses, you’re probably looking for attention from the local media – unless your story idea is provincial or national in scope (would be nice).  Journalists usually prefer to cover local events and activities.

Third, is the story idea relevant?  Is there something your business does that relates to something else going on in the news?  Or does your business provide seasonal services like yard cleaning?  You may be able to create a story idea based on current trends or issues.

Fourth, is the story full of controversy?  As sad as it sounds, journalists (and the public) love conflict and controversy.  This can be a positive for your business in certain situations, but often media attention in this category comes during a time of crisis.

Fifth, does your idea have an element of human interest?  Yes, we love controversy, but we also love stories of triumph and events that restore our faith in humanity.  If you’re doing something extra special, you should tell people about it.

Now for an example.

Lets say you own a local restaurant and you’ve decided to set aside one night during the holiday season to feed a group of people staying at a local shelter.  Telling the media about an event like this is timely (new), has proximity (local), is relevant (holiday season) and includes an element of human interest (doing a good deed).

Sure, you could always pay to have your business featured in the newspaper or on the radio.  But there’s nothing like free publicity!