Insider Tips for Working With the Media
Working with the media can be a great way to promote your business.
News stories reach a large audience and those stories are often shared on social media, sometimes hundreds of times! Also important for those on a tight marketing budget, it’s free. Sounds great right? It probably is, but there are a few things you should consider before agreeing to put your company in the spotlight.
As a former journalist, I hated public relations professionals that took the steps I am recommending. They take up time and can limit a new station’s ability to craft a story the way it was envisioned. However, as a professional working to protect your company and its reputation, following these steps will allow you to help control the way your company is perceived.
Find out the purpose of the story
Do not commit until you have the right person confirmed for the interview
Make sure to prepare the interviewee
Mention topics to avoid ahead of time to the media reporter
Prepare a professional looking backdrop
One of the first things you should confirm when an interview request is made is, what’s the vision for the story. Next, ask why your company was chosen for the interview. Most reporters do not have ill intentions, but the last thing you want is to be blindsided and have your business featured in a negative way.
The “right” person doesn’t necessarily mean the CEO or President of your company. Find out what the story is about and figure out who at your company is best equipped to answer questions about the topic. Nothing is more frustrating for reporters than showing up for an interview and finding out that the contact who’s been lined up can’t answer your questions.
Not everyone is comfortable working with the media. For many, it’s a nerve racking experience. Making sure your interviewee is prepared, helps calm the fears. I do not recommend asking the reporter for a list of questions as this often leads to rehearsed answers. Rehearsed answers are rarely used in stories as they sound coached, the opposite of what a reporter wants. However, I would recommend asking for a list of topics that will be discussed during the interview. This way you and your team can prepare effectively.
“…as a professional working to protect your company and its reputation, following these steps will allow you to help control the way your company is perceived.”
If there is a subject you do not want you company speaking on, whether it’s a controversial topic or a topic your company lacks expertise, express that to the reporter in advance. This will help prevent awkward situations in which your interviewee must dodge unexpected questions. Transparency and communication will also help you build a strong relationship with the reporter.
Most media professionals will travel to your site for an interview. This gives you the ability to control what is in the background of your shot. While it may seem like a small detail, having the right setting can help establish credibility for your business. For example, rather than having your physician stand in front of your office building, have them stand in an examination room or a medical laboratory. Not only does this appear more credible, it also exposes viewers to what actually happens at your business, helping them associate your company with future needs.
Working with the media can be a great way to reach thousands of people at no cost to your business. If you take the right steps to prepare, stories can greatly benefit your business and promote the products and services you offer. Remember before the cameras start rolling, follow the five steps listed above. In doing so, you’ll help your company be portrayed as credible experts.
A Step Further
Preparation is vital for working with the media. But did you know that preparing for the spotlight can start months ahead of a shoot? One of the best ways is by making corporate videos. These videos range from company explainer videos to product overview videos. Interviewing the leaders of your business for these videos will give them ample opportunity to practice being on camera, helping calm the nerves that are often associated with video interviews. Shooting corporate videos also allows you to see who can handle interviewing under pressure. Don’t forget to practice some of the steps mentioned above. Step 3 and 5 can be used on your company shoot!
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