In your dream world, media relations would probably consist of getting in touch with a news reporter or a blogger, telling them your story, and getting all the coverage you want from them. Unfortunately, the reality is much different. Media relations is a slow, give-and-take process that requires patience and proper etiquette.
To build beneficial relationships, you need to start by avoiding these 7 media relations mistakes.
1. Offering a bunch of hype – Never forget who you’re talking to. You’re dealing with the news media, so offering up a bunch of hype with no substance is never a good idea. The media wants facts, statistics, and nonbiased information. So, for your own benefit, put away the used car salesman’s attire, ditch the Billy Mays-style lingo, and tone it down a few notches.
2. Writing press releases that suck – We recently had a post on here entitled, “7 Reasons Your Press Release Sucks” so I won’t spend too much time on this point. Make sure your press releases have strong headlines that instantly grab the editor’s attention, and focus on a story that someone outside of your company will actually care about. Also, don’t send out press releases every other day. There’s such a thing as overkill, and sending out too many press releases makes you sound like the boy who cried wolf.
3. Being unwilling to adjust a story’s angle – Editors and journalists want to give their readers stories they’ll actually care about. As a result, this often means they’ll change the focus of your story to enhance its appeal. Usually, this means making the story less about blowing your horn and more about a facet of the story that contains a general interest. Whenever you see the story is changing, you need to be willing to adjust. Don’t get upset that it’s not all about you, and don’t keep trying to change the conversation back to what you want it to be.
4. Dropping off the media’s radar – Too many companies make the mistake of only contacting the media when they need something. In between these moments, long periods of time go by with no contact. Hardly what I would call a “relationship.” Stay in the awareness of your contacts by sending them “thank you” notes when they help you out, “nice to meet you” notes when you make a new contact, and complimentary notes when they write articles you enjoy (writers love to hear you’re reading all of their articles, not just the ones about you).
5. Not understanding when to take no for an answer – There’s a thin line between properly pushing your story and being an unbearable pain in the @$$. Make sure you’re aware of that line and that you don’t cross it. Look, nobody likes getting rejected, but that’s a huge part of media relations. So, when your story is flat-out rejected or you’re asked not to call again, stop following up while you’re still ahead. Failure to do so could irreparably damage important relationships.
6. Being afraid to follow up – That being said, there’s nothing wrong with following up with the media. Remember, editors and journalists are incredibly busy, dealing with hundreds of people just like you on a daily basis. So, it’s important that you follow up regularly with phone calls and emails. When you follow up, be specific about who you are and what you want. This helps to cut through all the B.S. to get straight to the point.
7. Failing to reciprocate – All relationships-including those with the media-are two-way streets. That means you need to be willing to give as much (or more) than you receive. So, when the media contacts you for help on something that doesn’t necessarily serve your self-interests, do your best to accommodate them. Giving back goes a long way to strengthening your relationship and helping you receive more in the future.
What other media relations mistakes would you add to this list? Leave a comment with your top media relations no-no, and you could be helping a fellow reader avoid this mistake in the future!
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of 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/.