How to turn the big bad monster that is the Media into your best friend that will boost company growth.
By Karla Jo Helms
When people think of PR it has been our experience that they associate the term with simply writing press releases. While press release writing is an important component of an overall PR strategy, it only represents one piece of the campaign. The problem is that press releases have been used and abused so much due to a lack of understanding that many PR companies have lost sight of what a press release really is about.
You Must Understand the Media
Because the guidelines for a press release have become so misconstrued, so has the lack of understanding of what the media is actually looking for when it comes to their publications, radio or TV shows or even their websites.
What the media is looking for is largely based on business and the advertising they can sell in addition to offering quality content that is useful to their readership or audience. For each media source, there are different expectations by the readership or viewership that keep them returning for more information. The topics which interest the audience of a particular media source represent the content the media source is interested in receiving
Have you ever been to a party where you encounter someone who only talks about what they want to talk about and no matter what you say they keep shifting the focus back to themselves? What do you do? You get bored and walk away of course. On the other hand, if you meet someone who is -interested in what you have to say and there is a balance of give-and take, then you tend to enjoy the conversation as well as the person’s company.
This is no different when it comes to understanding what the media wants and when you show them that you understand the types of content that keep their audiences returning for more it shows you are listening to them. Although this may seem like basic communications skills you would be surprised at how many PR people miss this cue when dealing with the media and then their PR campaign fails.
Tips on Understanding the Media
Understanding the media is just like cultivating a good friendship. When you want a friendship, you make a point of finding out what interests the other person so you can generate a conversation. When you develop a relationship with the media you do your homework, try to watch their shows, read their publications, discover what is of interest to them and the people that listen to them, as well as look at the feedback of their client base.
When you gather this information, it provides you with a place to start when you approach a particular media source to establish a relationship. If you do not like what they offer, or more importantly it does not fit your clients’ story, then move on. However, if your story does fit, then you can offer them data which will provide them with additional ideas that could be of interest to their audience. This is far more effective than telling them how great you are and why they should publish your story. Doing so just makes you the bore at the party who only talks about things that are of interest to them.
Taking time to get to know the media source is like asking a person “How are you?” or “What do you like?” When someone asks these types of questions it immediately shows concern for the other individual as opposed to hearing someone list their resume and talk about all the great things they have done. If you have these communications skills then you have the start of the skills necessary for communicating with the media. And once you learn the rules of engagement of dealing with the media, you can create successful PR campaigns for your clients.