Polish Up for the Press

An essential part of developing positive, strategic relationships with key reporters and editors is simply thinking in terms of the their needs and what appeals to their audiences.

Never respond to a question with “no comment,” and never preface a statement with “off the record.”

Here are a few tips on how to develop these key relationships and make the most out of your media opportunities.

1. Become a guru on behalf of your industry. Let reporters know that they can rely on you for timely feedback on issues, even if the story doesn’t exclusively feature your company.

2. Focus on receiving quality media coverage. Determine where your efforts should be focused, in terms of your strategic objectives and how they relate to the needs of key media outlets.

3. Support your high value coverage with lower profile opportunities, such as announcing the promotion of a key employee or the acquisition of a new contract.

4. Use your agency as a sounding board for generating or testing story ideas. Your new service or product could be a gold mine in the eyes of a particular publication, so work with professionals who can make informed suggestions—and make effective pitches to the media.

5. Always respond to reporters’ requests in a timely manner and respect their deadlines. By promising information and missing deadlines you risk the chance for receiving future coverage. You can also risk losing opportunities to a competitor by not responding in time.

6. Prepare your message in advance of conducting interviews and determine what information you are willing to disclose. Consider information such as revenue figures, information about your customers, vendors or competition. Make sure your message puts you in the best possible light.

7. If there are sensitive issues that reporters are likely to inquire about (remember, they are just doing their job), have an answer prepared that clearly and truthfully addresses the question and contains only information that you are comfortable giving.

8. Never respond to a question with “no comment,” and never preface a statement with “off the record.” While some reporters may put their pencils down, there is no reason to risk leaking information that ought to be kept confidential.

9. Give meaningful insight to the audience, without overwhelming them with industry jargon or too many facts and figures.

10. Treat reporters with the same respect that you would treat your current and prospective customers. After all, reporters determine whether your story is worthy of receiving exclusive exposure to their audiences.