By Pam Lontos
Learning to leverage the power of the media can help you stand out from the competition without expending your resources. If you are new or inexperienced in dealing with editors or reporters, you might feel intimidated. But you don’t need to be.
People interview people they like. Media professionals, like everyone else, gravitate toward someone they enjoy talking with. You can adopt strategies that will cause interviewers to come back to you, time after time.
Become familiar with the journalists you would like to cultivate relationships with. Follow their work, and let them know when you enjoy something they have written. Comment on something specific. Watch the TV broadcast or the talk show. Read the magazine, newspaper or blog. Listen to the radio show or podcast. Look at the ads to see what audience the advertisers are targeting.
Once you become familiar with the audience, you will understand what the audience wants. This will allow you to tailor your content, making it more valuable to the reporter or editor. Providing great content is the best way to motivate reporters to contact you in the future. Another good way to target your material correctly is to ask the reporter or interviewer if there is anything else you need to know to better understand his or her audiences.
Don’t let months pass without contact. If you stumble across an event, an idea or news item related to an area of the reporter or editor’s interest, call or email him or her about it. They will get the message that you are thinking about them as people, not just using them for your own purposes.
When you are interviewed, give good quotes. Strive for simple, declarative sentences. Use concrete images. Answer the question and don’t go off on tangents. Remember, the reporter is working hard to gain the knowledge he or she needs to write a good story. Or the radio host is looking for that pithy quote the listeners can relate to.
Be enthusiastic on the phone. Even if you’re not doing an interview for broadcast, the reporter will appreciate your passion for the subject.
If you’ve written a book on the subject you are being interviewed about, offer to send it. This will help them learn more about the topic they are researching.
At the end of an interview, ask about other stories the reporter is currently covering. Explain how you may be able to contribute and offer a unique angle that may interest the audience. Always remind the journalist that he or she can call you back with questions. And make it clear that you’re eager to be an accessible source of information in the future.
Don’t forget to maintain your relationships once they are established. Sometimes the reporter will call you as a source, but you just aren’t right for that particular subject matter. You can still be helpful by suggesting another person. Or, if the reporter needs a second or third source to interview, suggest names of other people.
Effective media coverage is all about developing and maintaining relationships. If you develop, nurture and maintain good relationships with reporters and editors, you will become the expert source they seek out time after time, which will help you stand out from the competition and boost your sales.