The relationship between manufacturers and the outdoor media has always been a bit awkward. Companies’ crave what reporters can deliver but many times are unsure or don’t have enough time to portray their brand correctly. They want to do what they do best – sell. Reporters, on the other hand, want to get their job done as quickly and accurately as possible without alienating companies that can be useful to them in the future.
When a newspaper, website, television or radio station includes you and your company in their coverage, you gain more than just exposure. Media coverage brings an implied credibility. Research shows that people find the information contained in news articles or stories to be more credible and believable than advertising. In short, a reporter can be one of your best allies.
Good press can:
- Support the sale of products and services
- Establish a corporate or organizational identity
- Promote the company image
- Influence public opinion
Many business owners become apprehensive when they know a media person comes knocking. This is understandable. It can be daunting and scary to answer a reporter’s questions. But, your approach to media relations needs to be nurtured constantly to be effective. An ongoing proactive approach to the media can enhance your overall marketing efforts.
The anxiety on both sides is caused by a misunderstanding of what each other needs. The two sides are not that far apart. A journalist wants to tell everyone about a great new product they have discovered while the company wants positive exposure on its portfolio to reach its target audiences. The collision of worlds becomes a bit more intense at large, important events such as the SHOT or NRA shows.
The SHOT Show, with more than 2,500 press-credentialed representatives, hosts the largest gathering of outdoor media in the world. This is one of the reasons the show is so great. It is the ideal place for people to exchange ideas, stories and best practices in a non-threatening environment. Whether it’s a show or just responding to a reporter’s “cold” call, here are a couple of guidelines to consider when working with the media.
Know Who and How To Contact: Normally a writer will contact you, but you should be proactive. If you have a legitimate story, then have a list handy of who specializes in that type of story. I always try to make personal notes of how the writer likes to be contacted: phone, press release or email. Today, almost all communications are electronic.
Embrace Media Releases: Contrary to popular belief, press releases are intended to start the conversation and spur interest – not tell the entire story. News releases should be simple and to the point. Rarely can you justify going beyond one page. There are a few simple rules to follow in writing releases. Remember that each release must include:
Who: the story is about and whom it affects
What: the story is about
Where: the story takes place
When: the story takes place
Why: the story takes place and why it is important to the audience
How: the story happens/how to participate/how to get to the location
Write in simple, declarative sentences. Keep quotes short, but ensure that they elaborate on your story, not simply repeat a point already made. Make sure the titles of all quotes are accurate.
Build Relationships: Getting to know and befriend reporters is critical. Just like any customer, the reporter deserves respect and attention. Your relationship should be of a business nature and two professional people doing their jobs. A positive relationship may save you when times are tough or bad news is on the horizon.
Follow Up: One of the primary rules of working with reporters is following up. One of the most common complaints from journalists are they are trying to help a company and cannot get details, interviews or photos to help craft their story. The frustration builds because the goals are almost exactly the same and the brand has the most to gain.
Looking at the media as a useful partner is the first step to adding a new tool for your public relations toolbox. We do this every day. Need help? Give me a call.