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Start Off 2009 with Media Tips to Help Promote Your Business!
By Mary B. Relotto, Dames Bond
Published On:  2/2/2009

Dames Bond would like to provide all members with ongoing opportunities to engage with local market media about your business activities or special interests.

The following is a brief guide to conducting media outreach on a local, statewide and regional basis:

  1. Identify Media Outlets in Your Region – Start by building a media list of relevant media in your community and industry. It should include the following categories:
    • Daily and weekly newspapers
    • Local television and cable access stations
    • Local radio
    • Internet and Satellite Radio
    • Trade publications
    • Wire services
  2. Identify Reporters for Each Outlet – Identify relevant reporters from each of the following categories for each media outlet:
    • Editor/Managing Editor for Newspapers and Magazines
    • Beat Reporters for Metro, Business, Health, Local and Federal
    • Government at each outlet, including wire services
    • Producers for Radio and Television
    • Assignment Managers for Local Television Stations
    • Guest Bookers for Specific Radio and Television Shows
    • Community Service and Public Service Directors for Print media and Radio Stations
  3. Determine Best Means to Communicate with Media – The following identifies the various types of media outreach tools:
    • Media Alert/Advisory – A one-pager used to invite media to an event or to suggest an interview. It highlights the basic who, what, when, where, addition to sending your media advisory to everyone on your media list, be sure to also send all media advisories to the Associated Press (AP) Day Book, which is a wire service that logs national and local events open to the media. Be sure you include a time and place for your event, interviews and/or photo opportunities.
    • Press Release – A press release is a shortened version of a news article that is used to entice the media to want to learn more about your organization, program, cause or product. Press/news releases can be
      one to two pages in length (400-500 words).
    • Letter to the Editor – This should be sent to the editor of your paper in response to a previously written article.
    • Op-Ed – An opinion-editorial (or op-ed) should be approximately 800 words in length and should reflect your opinion on a local or national issue. It should be written in the first person.
    • Public Service Announcement (PSA) – Radio PSAs are very short (30-60 seconds in length) and can be as simple as a script to be read by local radio personnel about a particular topic. They provide resource and assistance. A print PSA is a graphic file that can be run in a newspaper or magazine.
  4. Sending Out Media Materials – When developing your media list, pay attention to how a reporter wants to receive their material. Most reporters today prefer to receive media materials via email; although, some still prefer fax or mail. When sending e-mails, make sure your subject title fits into the subject line of the e-mail. Like your press release headline, the email subject title should grab a reporter’s attention and entice him or her to want to read more. Do not send press releases as word document attachments unless the reporter requests it.
  5. Following Up with Media – It’s important to place follow-up calls to media to make sure they received your materials. Try to call at times when they are not on deadline (i.e. Friday afternoon for a weekly reporter is usually a bad time). Keep your pitch short and focused (i.e. “I’m calling to follow-up on the information I sent you about the opening of my new shop. I wanted to check in and see if you would be interested in interviewing someone from our business about the uniqueness of what it is we offer."). Be prepared to resend materials if asked.
  6. Preparing for an Interview – Start by gathering as much information as possible from the reporter, including the focus of his/her story, the audience for the story and anyone else who may be interviewed. For television or radio interviews, find out if the interview will be live, taped or ‘live to tape’ (meaning it’s a live interview that is aired at a later date). For radio, ask if there will be listener call-in. This information will help you not get caught unaware by a caller you weren’t expecting during the interview.
  7. During the Interview – For any interview, have 3-4 key messages that you want to convey prepared in advance. Facts and figures are important, but anecdotes can also be invaluable in telling a story. Media like to tell a story through real-life case histories and examples. Think about how best to weave personal stories into the interview.
  8. What Not to Do in an Interview – Do not be speculative or answer hypothetical questions. If a reporter leads with, “Assume that…" or “What if…", respond with something such as, “I am unable to speculate on that, however…" and state your positive message. Avoid saying “No Comment" on any issue. It sounds as if you have something to hide. If you do not have an answer, say so and let the reporter know that you, or the appropriate spokesperson, will get back to them with information. If you do not want to discuss something, rephrase the general message or refer to your key messages on the topic.
  9. During Television Interviews – Often television coverage will only air your response, so it is best to restate the question at the beginning of your answer. (i.e. Q: “How did [your organization] decide to go green?" A: “[List Organization] decided to go green when…" . Your answer will be meaningless for viewers who don’t hear the initial question and will lessen the chance that your response gets on the air.
  10. Consider angles for a story before you pitch it!
    • What is YOUR company doing differently from your competitors?
    • Maybe your company is so unique, it has no competitors!
    • Perhaps your company is focusing on philanthropy and giving back to the community this year? Who are you partnering with and how?
    • Are you collaborating with other companies? If so, how?
    • If you are going green like so many, how is your company doing it differently?

    Remember, reporters want unique stories and they want to talk to credible people.  Don’t waste their time with story ideas that you yourself would have a hard time including on your website or in your own newsletter, especially if it’s not specific to your industry.

Good luck on getting press this year!  It certainly helps spread the word!

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