Secrets of successful media relations: Number 1 – Make real news!

by Eddie Reeves on August 3, 2009

Okay, I admit it, I’m biased: Of the various strategic marketing methods, my favorite is proactive media relations.

Partly because of my press background, but mostly because it is so effective, I love working with the media to help ensure proper news coverage of my clients.  A well-executed media relations campaign can take your brand to the stratosphere.  By the same token, a poorly-executed one can wreack havok on it.  That’s why I am kicking off this series of posts on Secrets of Successful Media Relations.

To start, one simple piece of advice:

Have something to say!

I know. Sounds too simplistic. But this is where many would-be media mavens get into trouble. They simply don’t have anything to say — at least nothing newsworthy.

I can’t count the times I have sat across from a frustrated CEO, listening to him rail against those stupid idiots down at the newspaper who are only interested in scandal and strife. Why can’t they cover some real news like the latest update of our Tech gizmo? Or the earnings we just announced that beat last year by a penny, just as we hinted they would on our last analysts’ call?  Or our other stuff?

After allowing them to vent, I try to explain that the media aren’t declining coverage of these stories because they have anything against the company or its leaders.  And it’s not because they are too dumb to understand the facts.

They aren’t covering your stuff because your stuff isn’t news!

Journalists define news as something unusual, controversial, new, or interesting to their audience, not yours. In general, they skew to events or information that is local and/or that has a bearing on the public interest.  (To hear first-hand what reporters consider news, click here.) If you think that definition through, you begin to see why so many things that a business leader might think is news will never make headlines.

–  Yes, your new product outperforms your old one, but isn’t that what you planned when you invested all the extra company resources in it?

–  Yes, you corrected the services glitches that got you all the negative press three months ago, but wasn’t your doohickey supposed to work great all along?

–  Yes, you just completed a record 250th day without an accident at the plant, but didn’t you brag of your committment to safety in your college recruitment ads?

The bottom line: For most seasoned media pros, it really isn’t that difficult to predict what will get coverage and the nature of that coverage.  If your media relations rep doesn’t get that, then you might as well replace him or her with this guy.

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