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Debunking four media myths

by Heather Claycomb

This month I thought I would share a few myths or misperceptions I hear a lot from organisations that are not used to working with media.  If you are thinking about doing more proactive media publicity in your business, these four myths will help you prepare for the road ahead.

Why doesn’t the media ever ask us for a story?

Newsflash: journalists are not sitting around wracking their brains about who they can do a ‘good news’ story about.  They will not simply seek you out if you are not putting your news in front of their noses.

Think about it: journalists in most publications report on the extremes.  Extremely negative or extremely positive stories are what get people clicking.  If it’s not clickable (on news websites), they will not be interested.

That means your job is to find the ‘clickable’ stories in your organisation, write them up in a news story format and get them to the right journalist who may potentially be interested in covering it.

Don’t call me; it’s in my media release!

Over the years, I’ve encountered clients who spend a lot of time writing a media release and getting it out to key journalists, but then are surprised when interview requests start rolling in. 

It’s important to realise the purpose of a media release.  It is meant to provide just enough information to get journalists interested in finding out more and potentially running a story.  The purpose is to get you interviews.  If the phones start ringing after you send out a media release, that’s success!

So, that leads to the important tip that you should only send a media release out on the day your media spokesperson is available to talk to journalists, at times that suit the journalist (not you) to meet their deadlines.  The most frustrating thing for a journalist is to agree to do a story and then the spokesperson isn’t available straight away. If this happens, media will be reluctant to work with you again.

All journalists love a media release.

Put yourself in the shoes of the best journalists.  What do they want?  To do their job well and be recognised for it.  Just like you!  For a journalist that often means being the first to report news – good or bad.  Plus, they are great writers.  Really great journalists don’t want to be spoon-fed your companies’ key messages.  They’d rather interview you and write up a story that is their own.

That’s why writing a media release and blasting it out to 100 journalists rarely gets good pickup these days.  Journalists know that’s what you’re doing when they receive a media release where they’ve been blind copied.  Most will ignore such emails.

It’s better to research journalists at the publication, radio station or TV channel that will best reach your audience.  Then, target those journalists individually with an email or phone call to discuss the story angle.  As one says no (or completely ignores you, which is normal), then approach the second journalist on your list and so on.  

Let’s get the news out, then start our marketing campaign.

I’ve seen companies get this wrong where they do not time their publicity and marketing to work together to maximum effect (i.e. to drive enquiries and sales).  If you are launching a new product or service, you want to ensure your customers and prospects start to see your advertising and promotion at the same time they read or hear your news story. 

Getting this right requires intentional precision.  That’s because your news will only be online in mainstream news outlets for a few hours or maximum one day.  Therefore, you need to leverage that time period effectively with targeted marketing that complements your news messages.  Google adverts are especially important to capture people who will look for you after reading your news.