Some entrepreneurs have a love affair with the media. Others tremble in fear. Developing a positive media relationship is largely a matter of understanding their needs and presenting useful information, exclusives and opportunities to meet senior people.
Ten Things You Should Do
- Have clear objectives. Know what you want to say and why you want to say it. Stick to four or five key points that you want to make.
- Understand the needs of journalists/interviewer. They want news. They want exclusives. Give them facts to support your key points – let them see the research and analysis that backs your opinions. Give information in a format that is immediately useful.
- Be quotable. Think of a sound bite that summarises each of your key points.
- Keep it simple. Unless you know that the journalist has an in-depth knowledge of your field, avoid jargon, technical language and acronyms.
- Plan and rehearse. Examine current issues and trends in your industry, anticipate the questions you will be asked and prepare clear and consistent answers. Have a trial run with a colleague. Arrange professional media training for yourself if you need to bolster skills and confidence further. Digital cam corders are relatively inexpensive, buy one and video yourself.
- Keep control. Ensure that you meet in a comfortable and quiet room where you will not be interrupted. Answer the questions asked but raise the issues that are relevant to the points you want to put over.
- Provide a briefing pack. This should contain a printed copy of your key points with relevant information written in a form the journalist can take, edit and use easily. Include good quality images or video in a digital format on disk, memory stick or Dropbox style sharing service. Check preferences for file type and PC or Mac format. Providing links to material on web sites is useful but it is better to include material digitally and/or as hard copies in the pack if possible.
- Provide appropriate hospitality. If someone has spent several hours travelling to see you, it is only reasonable to provide refreshment (tea, coffee, soft drinks, sandwiches or a light lunch). Offer to cover their travel expenses.
- Provide access to senior managers and specialists. This shows that you respect the journalist’s need for quality information.
- Say thank you. A brief note after the meeting is the sort of simple courtesy that cements the relationship and may lead to a continuing positive dialogue.
Five Things You Should Not Do
- Don’t seek or accept an interview if you are not prepared. Be prepared – and you can then exploit all the opportunities that come your way.
- Don’t voice negative or controversial opinions. This can reflect as badly on you as on the subject you are talking about.
- Don’t mess around with dates. Journalists are busy people so once the date is set keep to it, however, be prepared to change if the journalist needs to change date.
- Don’t go for a big lunch or consume excess alcohol. This creates the wrong impression and may put you in a less controlled situation where you say things you hadn’t intended.
- Don’t infringe a journalist’s exclusivity period. By all means keep and update the briefing pack for the next journalist that visits after the exclusivity period has passed.