By Kelli Hernandez
Perspective is a huge part of the public relations/marketing industry, and for small business owners it is even more important to realize the role of public relations in the day-to-day operation of a business. The typical PR professional is forced to see things from the perspective of clients, upper management, the public, suppliers, stakeholders, and others. However, one of the trickiest relationships for many PR professionals is with the local media.
With that in mind, it is increasingly important as a company owner or a member of upper-management that you gain firsthand insight into the world of media relations. This knowledge can prove to be vital and business altering.
The following is a list of the top five dos and don'ts for dealing with the media:
5) Don't ask to preview an article before it goes to print.
This may seem like a harmless request to the outside world, but this is a huge no-no in the world of media. Asking to preview an entire article before it is published may be taken as an insult. It can send the message that you don't believe the reporter is capable of understanding the facts of the story, or that you believe the reporter is dishonest and intends to print fallacies. Even if your intentions are good, this is a quick way to get on a reporter's bad side.
4) Do learn the difference between advertising and news.
Sending a press release to a news organization about a new product is typically the quickest route to the trash can. On the other hand, giving away 100 free samples of a new product to benefit disadvantaged children or abused women is much more newsworthy. If you send too many press releases that are more closely suited to advertising, your company's news releases may eventually go straight from the inbox to junk mail.
3) Don't allow PR staff to be the sole spokespeople.
Whether in press releases or interviews, reporters hate having to wade through paragraph after paragraph of unusable quotes. The PR professional is not the CEO or the expert, they are the facilitator. As the owner of a small business or as upper management, your voice needs to be heard. Take a stand and be your own spokesperson.
2) Do know the publication.
In addition to knowing an audience, business professionals have to know the publication to which they are pitching a story idea. Which reporters cover which beats? What stories has the publication been interested in lately? How often does the publication print? What are normal weekly deadlines? These are questions to which you should know the answers before calling to pitch a story. Call without doing any homework and your company is likely to get buried coverage if anything at all. If a professional calls knowing who they are talking to and what they are talking about, it may be the beginning of a beautiful working relationship.
1) Don't lie.
It sounds obvious, but this is the most vital insight into the world of media relations. Never ever lie to a publication. Don't lie in order to get coverage. Don't lie to cover up information. Don't lie to sugar coat a situation. Don't lie, period. In 99 percent of situations, a reporter already knows the truth; they are just calling to give the company an opportunity to offer information in their own words. The other 1 percent of the time, a reporter (if he or she is diligent) is going to check the facts on any information shared by the organization anyway.
Remember, both business professionals and the media are working together toward a common goal, and businesses need not be intimidated. By employing a few simple rules when dealing with media personnel, your company may be fielding coverage left and right in no time.
Kelli Hernandez currently serves as the Director of West Coast Development for Insight Marketing Communications, an award winning, full-service marketing, advertising and public relations firm based out of Northwest Florida. The company recently opened its newest branch serving the Phoenix area.
Hernandez began her professional career in the field of journalism serving as both a reporter and newsroom editor. Her award winning copywriting has earned her numerous awards including a Georgia Associated Press Association Award for Public Service Writing.