How to get good press

Met with two different groups yesterday, talking about media relations and how to get good coverage.

Here’s what I’ve learned through trial and error and shamelessly stealing from others…

1. Reporters want 2 things.

  • Reporters want a great quote. So be bold. Be brief. And then be quiet. Learn to speak in soundbites. Give a quote you’d like to see turned into a headline or worked into the lede. If there’s no direct quote, or there’s a voiceover when you show up on the screen, you gave a lousy interview. Reporters don’t want a sermon, your post-graduate thesis dissertation or 1,000 really useless facts.
  • Reporters want to go home. They need to go and pick up the kids. Go to the gym. Stop off at the grocery store. Have a life. They do not want to wait around, wondering if you’ll call them back. Actually, most won’t wait and good luck getting any press the next time you pitch a story. Aim to get back to a reporter within 2 hours of getting the request.

2. WSIC? Every reporter, editor and producer will ask. Why should I care? Why should our readers, viewers and listeners care? How will they benefit? How will life get better? What’s exciting to you may be of absolutely no relevance or interest to the rest of the world. Your job is to make it relevant. And if you can’t, buy an ad.

3. Serve up a poster child. With every pitch, I serve up a poster child who’s ready and willing to talk with the media. I include mobile #, home #, work #, email. I also like to line up 1 or 2 other folks for the media to talk with.

4. Joining a conversation is a whole lot easier than trying to start one. Don’t be like that annoying person at parties who only talks about themselves. Link what you do to what’s already going on in the news and is on everyone’s radar.

5. Manage expectations. From experience, good press pays off with an enhanced reputation. You build up your trust and forgiveness account so that if, or when, something goes off the rails folks believe it’s out of character. The other benefit of good press is recognition. Sing the praises of someone at work who’s done good and made a difference. You can bet that person will keep clippings of the story and it’ll go up on lunchroom and hallway bulletin boards.

6. Position your organization as an advice giver to the world. Sell your resident experts. Define yourself by the solutions you can offer the world.

Published by

Jay Robb

I've reviewed more than 500 business books for the Hamilton Spectator since 1999 and worked in public relations since 1993.

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