Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Media and Media Relations

Every member of the media and every media outlet needs great, compelling content that keeps their readers, viewers and listeners coming back. And these days, the more able a story is to be told throughout a variety of media and media platforms, the better chance it has of getting covered. Think of your story as a stream, and each of its parts as currents in that stream.

A few years ago, newspapers may have sent a reporter out to cover an event and, if you were lucky, a photographer. Now, the  photographer may well also have a video camera – or they may send a dedicated videographer along as well. And if they don’t send along a dedicated photographer, you may see reporters with cameras at the ready pulling double duty.

What does this have to do with media and media relations? A couple of things, actually.

First off, lots of people will tell you that great media and media relations all come down to who you know.  Does it help knowing lots of people in the industry? Absolutely. We know our stories get to the top of the pile all the time because of the people we know.  We’d like to think it’s because we’re just such swell people, and our mothers would tell you that’s true. But really, it’s because we consistently give the media and other relevant parties the angles and tools they  need to tell important, smart, poignant, thoughtful, insightful, funny,  or in some way meaningful stories that have value to their audiences.

That last sentence is important - stories that have value to their audiences. It doesn’t matter if it’s your conjoined twin is the executive producer of The Today Show and owes you a favour. Media and all who work in it value their professionalism. Any story they air, print or post must serve their audiences. The better you help them do that, the more your chances of securing great media and cementing your media relations improve.

For most organizations, the act of simply pushing out a dry press release with a bit of information will get very little traction.  Here are some of the things any organization needs to do to have the best shot at positive media and better media relations:

1. Do the research. It’s not enough to know your product or service alone. You need to know what the public perception is of your industry, your competitors, your company, your product and anything else . You can’t change or influence something unless you know what the current perception is.

2. Understand your story. Remember the stream analogy? Your story is moving in one concerted direction but within that very fast moving stream, there’s a lot happening. Understand the different currents within your stream and determine the audience for each. Then look at which media and news outlets might be a fit for what story.

3. Be truthful and honest. We are living in an increasingly transparent age and lies, serious oversights and omissions will likely come back to haunt any organization who plays fast and loose with the truth. Those who operate this way will get media and news attention – but for all the wrong reasons.

4. Know who is covering what. Don’t just send out an indiscriminate blast or pitch journalists stories that aren’t on their beat or that don’t hold any interest for them. Look at recent stories they’ve covered and determine what they believe to be topical. Can your story add to their discussion in some meaningful way? Traction in the media and strong media relations are dependent on targeted, knowledgeable newsworthy releases and not generic blasts out to anyone with an inbox.

5. Ensure you have great story-telling assets to give the media and ensure you have pieces that will work for each platform.  Assume your story will be told throughout a variety of channels and have the tools and pieces necessary to do that. You should havean online Media Room with your EPK (electronic press kit) with search engine optimized press kit components, which at the very least should contain:

-lead press release

-bios

-faq

-one page

-Art (high res jpegs) of key people, products, etc.

-B-roll (active video – not dependent on voice or sound)

-video interviews with key personnel.

-existing press clippings if relevant

Your EPK should also be available to hand to media and other vested parties, preferably on USB drive.

Make it easy for them. Make it easy for the media and every journalist you work with to tell your story. Create something compelling. Be dynamic, be interesting, be engaging, be newsworthy. There is a burning need for content out there. Media and news outlets are looking for stories to tell. Give them what they need every time, and your stories will get told.

Need help? Give us a shout or drop us a line. Together, let’s see how we can engage the world in your story.

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