"Is there any way to make your association's good news story more appealing to journalists?" Someone asked me this question after my talk on media relations at the CSAE National Conference in Newfoundland. Here's my take on getting reporters to pay attention to your media pitches... FYI, I reference my sister a few times in this clip. Just for context, so you know who I'm referring to, my sister is Carly Weeks, a health reporter at The Globe and Mail.
I was going through some video from the summer and found this clip from the very beginning of a talk to a group of divorce lawyers and mediators in Niagara Falls. I was trying to figure out which kinds of phones everyone was using (as context for the talk) and there was an unexpected exchange with one of the audience members. Videotaping your talks means you get to preserve funny little moments like this one.
The media landscape is always changing. When you think you've seen it all or when you think you're done learning, you'll be putting yourself and your clients in a vulnerable position. Keep learning. Pay attention to the changes from things like social media. Continue to adapt to the changing media environment.
In less than 30 seconds, here are the two things that every great spokesperson brings to every single media interview!
Great key messages (by themselves) are not enough. You need to have the skills to excel at the 'chess match' of the interview as well. You need to have both of these things firing on all cylinders.
One of the quickest things you can do to improve the quality of your media coverage is to focus on creating shorter, more powerful messages that tell your story in a way that will be interesting to journalists and your audience.
When your messages are too long, journalists are forced to edit your answers, which increases the chances that a partial answer may be taken out of context.
So...how long should your messages be? This is my take on that question.
The #1 most common mistake that people make in their media interviews? Repeating the negative language that reporters often use in their questions. If you pay attention, you'll find quotes like these in most news stories, whether it's in print, radio or TV. Why is it such a serious mistake? Because you end up telling your story using someone else's words and, in many cases, they're negative, controversial words you would never use to tell that story. If you can kick this habit, you'll be well on your way to better media coverage.
If you run a business, you need to be on Instagram right now. Even if you're in your 40s, 50s, 60s or up. I did a talk three days ago to a room of divorce lawyers and mediators in Niagara Falls. Only a very small percentage of them said they had their businesses on Instagram. That number needs to increase if they want to remain relevant and competitive. I can tell you that in the past year, Instagram has become one of my most important marketing channels. Here's a very short video (1-min) where I talk about how I use Instagram for my media training business.
Apparently the new White House Communications Director doesn't understand how journalism works. Here's a quick primer:
- If you're talking to a reporter, that's an interview.
- Anything you say during an interview can be used by the reporter (unless you clarify and agree in advance that something is either 'background' or 'off the...
Without realizing they're doing it, many media spokespeople put themselves in what I call CSI mode. They default to a role that's the equivalent of a suspect being interrogated by the police. And when it comes to conducting media interviews on behalf of your brand, that's not a winning approach...
I asked a bunch of journalists for their best media pitching advice that they'd like to share with PR people. The best answer was from a journalist named Mitch Moxley. His advice was short but to-the-point: Don't pitch boring shit...
Most media interviews that don't work out the way a spokesperson had hoped can be traced back to one simple truth. That way too many people treat media interviews like their other day-to-day conversations. I can talk about this for hours but here's a quick, one-minute hit on my favourite topic.
You've seen it a million times on shows like CSI, Cold Case, Law & Order and NCIS. They cut away from a commercial and suddenly, you're transported to the interrogation room. It's just a table, a few chairs and a one-way mirror. But this is a room with a lot of baggage. Before anyone says a word, the power dynamic is already well established. There's no doubt about the fact that...Read More
I did a talk in January on the importance of doing videos for your business. For years, I've been telling companies and clients this but I refrained from doing it for my own business. The biggest reason is that it's outside my comfort zone. I prefer to be the guy behind the camera. But I asked everyone in that room to create a video and I promised to do one myself. So here it is. If I had to do just one video, this had to be the topic. Persistence. I truly believe that's the main reason I've had any degree of success in building a business over the past 14 years. The link to the video is in my bio. Thanks for watching and please share it with anyone who needs a nudge or a kick in the butt to pursue their goals.Read More
Being asked to prepare a company's spokespeople to deal with the media is a huge honor and it's a big responsibility. One way or another, as a media trainer, your ability (or inability) to coach these people will impact the quality of their company's media coverage, their brand and, to an extent, their professional legacies. Because there's so much riding on the outcome of your media training program, if you're serious about preparing your executives to deal with the media as effectively as possible, you need to stay away from media training 'tourists'...Read More
I know what some of you are thinking: "Snapchat is for kids. It's not for businesses. And it's certainly not for our business." It's funny. That's what a lot of marketing types were saying about Facebook back in 2010. Six years later, virtually every company has a presence on Facebook and the platform generated $17 billion in ad revenue last year.
There's a huge and relatively new marketing opportunity on Snapchat right now. They're called 'On-Demand Geofilters'. These filters are essentially location-based ads for brands, businesses, events and individuals. They're cool, the engagement levels with users are high and (for now, at least) they are a very, very cost-effective way of promoting your brand.Read More
If your organization is still sitting on the sidelines when it comes to creating and sharing video content, you need to understand that you're missing out on one of the single most effective communication platforms available. Don't just take my word for it. Consider this:
- 74% of all internet traffic will be video in 2017 (Syndacast)
- Between April and November of 2015, the number of daily video views on Facebook went from 4 billion to 8 billion (TechCrunch - November 2015)
- Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content (buffersocial)
- 51% of marketing professionals say video is the type of content with the best ROI (Digital Marketing Blog - April 2015)
One of the biggest errors spokespeople make is giving the journalist way too much control over the interview process. Yes, the reporter gets to ask the questions. But that doesn't mean you should hand over 100% control of the exchange to them. If you do, I guarantee that you will be disappointed with your media coverage over the long term. Instead of asking you to participate in a media interview, imagine the reporter asked you to go on a car ride.Read More
There are a lot of media coaches out there who like to push the idea that reporters are the bad guys. It’s a training approach founded on fear. It’s also (in my opinion) based on a false premise. It’s counterproductive. And it prevents spokespeople from understanding how they should really be approaching media interviews.Read More