Maximize Your Company’s Exposure by Building Relationships with
By Pam Lontos
already know that the media is the best avenue for promoting your
business, because it adds credibility to your message, positions you
as the expert, and best of all…it’s free. So you’ve done a few
interviews and gotten quoted in a few articles, but those just left
you hungry for more. Now, how do you expand on the contacts you’ve
already made? The key to getting more exposure is to build
relationships with the media professionals.
media contact is like a key to the city of free publicity. Reporters
will actually start calling you for interviews and quotes instead of
the other way around. But developing such relationships is not that
simple; they take work on your part. The good news is that when you
master these relationships, you’ll find them to be much easier for
publicity than convincing a new media person that your message
deserves to be heard. Use the following tips for building your
relationships with the media:
Excellent Phone Interviews: In dealing with the media, most of
your interviews will take place over the phone. But that doesn’t
mean you don’t have to give a good first impression. Yes, you can
wear jeans and a sweatshirt for your afternoon call, or even
interview at a messy desk, but you can’t sound incompetent. When the
reporter can’t see you, they will draw all their conclusions about
you from your tone of voice and your word choices, so don’t take
these interviews lightly.
the interview, prepare for the call. Take time for yourself and
write down the main points you’d like to cover. Use this as an
opportunity to relax, collect your thoughts, and make a few notes on
a 3x5 card. Avoid reading scripted responses from a pre-printed
sheet. You want to sound natural and honest, plus the reporter will
always be able to tell when you’re reading. Also, seek a quiet spot
for the interview. If your office is noisy and busy, close yourself
off in a room without distractions. With a few notes ready and all
your distractions put away, you won’t struggle through the
interview; you’ll sound relaxed and confident.
phone rings and the interview starts, stand up and smile while you
talk. Standing, like you’re giving a live presentation, raises your
energy level and you’ll be more alert than if you were sitting.
Additionally, a genuine smile radiates through the phone line, and
the reporter on the other end will feel the joy in your voice. Both
these techniques can make the difference between a mundane interview
and a great conversation. They build a rapport that influences the
reporter to keep you in mind for future stories.
way to build a relationship in a phone interview is to be respectful
and show the reporter that you care. Ask them if you’re talking too
quickly, because reporters always take notes by hand. Slow down your
pace so they don’t miss any points. Also, ask nicely if they will
mention your business information. Don’t be pushy; remember, the
reporter decides how much room you get in their story. And never
request a copy of the story for your approval. The reporter doesn’t
answer to you. But don’t be afraid to show interest by asking for a
copy of the magazine or a tape of the show after publication or
interview starts to wrap up, inquire about other stories the
reporter is currently covering. Explain how you may be able to add
to them and offer a unique angle that may interest their audience.
Let the reporter know that they can call you back if they have any
questions, or provide them with other sources. And show them that
you’re eager to be an accessible source of information in the
Integrity to Your Message: Reporters love accurate sources with
factual information. By conveying your message with integrity, you
can score a space on their contact list. Start by sticking to the
facts. Don’t overload the reporter with tons of unnecessary
information, and always back up your claims with numbers. For
example, instead of saying, “A majority of my clients…,” try,
“Eighty-five percent of my clients...” And always be forthright. If
you want to be quoted in their story, don’t answer a question by
saying, “You’ll get the answer to that when you buy my product.”
afraid to give too much information away. Many times, people fear
that if they give meaty details about their business, then no one
will need it. In reality, this is one of the biggest mistakes you
can make with the media. Think about it like this: In a one-page
article, you might get two or three quotes. Or, if you’re on a radio
or television segment, you might get three minutes of actual talk
time. There’s no way you can ruin your wealth of knowledge in that
small space. Remember, the more people get, the more they want, and
it’s the same for the media. When you provide them with tons of
information, they’ll be sure to come back for more because you
practically gave them the first story.
experiences also add integrity to your message. They place you in
the real world, doing real actions, rather than just sitting on the
set of a television show, or on the other end of the phone line.
Reporters love to hear firsthand accounts relating to the topic.
Your experiences add a personal, unique touch to the story. You also
want the reporter to know you’re an approachable person, so laugh
with them and be friendly. Personal experiences differentiate you
from all the other interviews. So use a good story, and the media
will remember you in the future.
always speak with authority. Don’t use weak language like, “I
think,” or “maybe,” and use the word, “you” as often as possible.
Add benefit statements to your facts and eliminate technical jargon
and out-of-date phrases. Not everyone knows as much about your topic
as you, so always explain things as if for the first time. You want
the reporter to understand so they can convey your message to their
Your Best: The television world revolves around physical
appearances. So when you get booked for a TV show, your appearance
is everything. How you sit or stand will send a message about you as
a person, and about your business…so make sure the message is the
you have to plan what to wear. As a general rule, think basic. Women
should stick with simple suits, blouses, and tailored dresses. Keep
the busy prints, accessories, and jewelry to a minimum. True colors,
like blue, green, and grey are more flattering than black, white,
and red, which make you look washed-out. You want all the attention
to be on your face, not on your wild outfit. Finally, go for natural
fabrics like wool, cotton, and linen so you’re more comfortable.
should plan for basics as well. Wear dark, but not black, suits
paired with lighter shirts. Avoid shirts or ties with patterns, as
they may look funny on screen. Red or burgundy ties are best. Again,
wear natural fabrics, like wool and cotton, for comfort.
Essentially, simple clothing keeps your face and your message at the
center of attention.
the interview, use good posture. Sit up straight, or stand tall, but
not stiff. You want to appear relaxed and confident, not uptight.
Don’t rock or swing or pace. Moving too much will make you appear
nervous. Keep your arms and hands loose, not crossed over your
chest. And use hand gestures to emphasize your points.
where do you look? As tempting as it may be, don’t stare at the
camera. Look at the interviewer and pretend like the camera doesn’t
even exist. Eye contact is always good. And show your enthusiasm by
sitting forward, not back in your chair. When you’re on television,
looks should always be a top priority if you want to get called back
a Lasting Impression: Media professionals always need reliable
sources of information to develop their stories. When you develop
relationships with them, you can be the person they call for quotes.
Energy and friendliness on phone interviews let the reporter know
that you’re excited about talking to them. Integrity lets the media
know that your message is unique and your information is accurate
and credible. Looking confident and pulled-together on television
puts the focus on you and what you have to say.
effort to build relationships with the media, and they’ll know they
can rely on you as a source. When you use these tips and make their
jobs easier, you will get more interviews, more quotes, and more
free publicity for your business.
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