5 tips to ensure you give media what they really want and earn positive coverage
William Shakespeare wrote, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” When it comes to getting media coverage for your company, the question should be: What will the journalist ask, and am I prepared to give a great answer?
Being selected for a feature story or as an expert contributor can be beneficial for your company’s image and increase visibility. Unfortunately, many companies think the job is complete once the reporter agrees to the interview. In fact, this is where the real work begins. Trust a public relations firm to help you prepare for any media encounter.
What types of questions will a reporter ask?
- Direct questions. The journalist asks these questions simply to collect the facts, like who, what, where, when and why.
- Open-ended questions. These are typically friendly and meant to help you relax. Usually, you can’t answer them with a simple yes or no. Questions about how you did something or what actions over the previous year have had the biggest impact on your bottom line fall into this category.
- Closed-ended questions. These often require a yes or no or a brief answer. For example, the reporter might ask if you expect revenues to increase this quarter or if you will be opening a new location in the next 12 months.
- Tough questions. You’ll always encounter questions you may not wish to answer, especially if the interview is the result of a crisis. With help from PR, you can learn to answer these questions clearly and direct the conversation.
- Leading questions. These are designed to elicit a certain type of response. For instance, “What are the major problems with this new business regulation?” instead of, “What do you think about the new regulation?”
A reporter is interested in covering your company. Now what?
- Remember that in any interview situation, you’re the face of your organization.
If you appear tired, uninterested or nervous, people will attach those same attributes to your company. Anyone authorized to speak to the media on your company’s behalf should receive spokesperson training.
- Do your homework.
Don’t get so excited about winning the interview that you forget about due diligence. Make sure you understand why you’re being interviewed. Find out what the reporter is looking for and how your company can help. Reach out to the journalist or the media outlet beforehand to clarify the topic and ask questions.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Have important facts at your fingertips about your company and your industry. Gather a few anecdotes and statistics on your topic and be ready to discuss trends and big-picture issues. Also, don’t be offended if most of your information doesn’t make the final piece. The reporter will remember your usefulness and knowledge and may use you as a resource in the future.
- Stay on track.
Some reporters use awkward pauses and your own discomfort to draw out information you didn’t intend to say. It’s best not to tell jokes or go off-topic as this can dilute or distract from your key messages. Everything you say and even your mannerisms can end up in print or on the air. There is no such thing as “off the record.” It’s also crucial to keep in mind that the interview is not over until all microphones are off and either you or the reporter has left the room.
- Hire a PR firm to manage your media relations.
Chances are your company doesn’t speak to reporters every day. A PR agency that specializes in media relations does.
At Axia Public Relations, you get years of media relations expertise. We work to cultivate relationships and pitch our clients’ stories to journalists daily. We have already done most of the work for you so when a journalist approaches you with media questions, you’ll have the right answers. To find out more, contact us or download our free e-book Learn Media Relations from the Media today.
Lisa Goldsberry is a senior blogger for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business and technology PR. Lisa has worked for Axia since December 2013. Learn more about Lisa Goldsberry. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.
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