There really are no secrets to managing media relations. Whether you are a business, an organization or group, or even an individual-you may have cause to seek media attention or publicity for a project or event. Or, you just may find yourself needing to understand how to work with the press. Here are some concrete tips for dealing with your local media:
1. Learn the players by name and keep track of their contact information-It’s important if you are going to be dealing with your local media to know the reporters, broadcasters, editors, etc. and know how to get in touch with them. This doesn’t mean you have to know everyone, but you should know the ones who control your access to the press. For example, if you are in performing arts, you should know the arts reporters, editors and reviewers-not to mention the person or people who do any community columns or gossip-type reporting on television and radio. Taking the time to get to know and cultivate the people who can get you column inches and air time, is definitely time well-spent.
2. Keep your message simple-Before chatting with anyone from the media, make sure you know exactly what you want to say and what your message is. Are you trying to sell tickets? Sway public opinion? Generate interest? Attract customers or clients? Make the best use of your opportunity to reach a large number of people by having a clear, simple, accessible and easily-digestible message. Remember the term “sound-byte?” While you don’t have to be that savvy-you should have a reason and a purpose for dealing with the press and package your message for the type of media and public consumption.
3. Provide information in writing-Don’t just rely on an interview or a phone conversation with a reporter or media personality to get your message out. Prepare a written statement (and photo images, if you have them) with your contact information, any specifics they may need for their story, suggestions for other people to contact, etc. This should all fit on one page, with plenty of white space (or send it as an e-mail) so as not to be too overwhelming. This will help the reporter get the facts straight and increase the likelihood that they will do the story-you’re making their job easier and that’s a good thing.
4. Follow-up-Finally, once you’ve done an interview, or provided information for a story, or after a review, preview, article or story has appeared in your local media-make sure you follow up with the reporter or editor. Send a “thank you” note or e-mail, or even make a phone call to let them know how much you appreciated the work. This gives you the opportunity for further contact and cultivation with the local media, and you may be able to get a copy of a taped story (you’ll have to ask). This gives you a leg-up the next time you need a little publicity.