The news media can make a president. It can also make a president resign. It can mean success or failure for you, your product, event, or business venture. Yet many people simply aren’t prepared to deal with the media.
Some of the most successful people shake like a leaf when confronted with a television interview. The biggest fear is being misquoted.I know from my years of reporting (in a previous life) that the great majority of reporters are fair. But we must keep in mind that a reporter’s job isn’t to please us. It is to get information that the reporter feels the public should know. Their job is to get both sides and get it right.
Just as in most other professions though, there is a small percentage that doesn’t care and “won’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.” It’s that small percentage that makes people fear even the good reporters. That fear results in a defensive attitude during an interview and that gives you a negative image on the screen.
Your fear can tempt you to simply say “no comment,” which will also make you look bad. “No comment” invites confrontation and makes you look like you are hiding something.
When there is a confrontation between you and the camera, the camera always wins. The chances of a confrontation with a reporter increase when a reporter hasn’t heard from you by mid-afternoon. There are several ways to avoid confrontations. Among them:
- Respect the reporter’s deadline.
- Show concern for what a reporter is asking you.
- If you can’t grant an interview, explain why.
Over the past fifteen years, I have seen relations between the news media and many businesses get better. In my seminars, I have seen a real desire by participants to improve media relations.
Businesses can improve media relations by helping to educate a reporter before the interview takes place. You have years of experience in your profession, while a reporter has just started to find out about you or your business.
Another way a business can help itself is by showing its human side. There are a number of ways to do that effectively. After all, you are an organization of human beings. Making the media aware of that can only help you get your point across, while it helps reporters do their jobs.
If both you and the reporter benefit, the chances are you will do business with that reporter again, good business.
This article, written by Al Rothstein, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.