For most successful SMEs it is only a question of time before you come into contact with the media. This could be anything from a mention in a local newspaper article, through to making the headlines on a national news channel. But, how do you deal with the media? How important is the media to your business, and is it really possible to stay in control of a story?
At a recent networking event at The Langstone Hotel, the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce invited Freddie Rostand, former BBC journalist, and now director at Executive Training to talk about his experiences of working in the sector. We went along, notepads at the ready, and here we share our take on Freddie’s 4 top tips for working with the media:
1. Don’t underestimate the size and reach of the media.
The UK alone has over 9,500 media outlets all with distinct brands, audiences and levels of influence. Positive media coverage will boost the value and position of your brand, and effective media relations will help you to attract new clients and reassure existing ones. There is a huge range of media – regional/national newspapers, trade press, radio & television, online – learn which channels are most relevant to your business and look to create relationships with them, before they come to you!
“Positive media coverage will boost the value and position of your brand, and effective media relations will help you to attract new clients and reassure existing ones.”
2. Understand the audience.
When you consider pitching to a journalist always bear in mind that a story is written for the audience – understanding who they are is critical to your chances of getting your piece run. Typically a story has less than 10 seconds to appeal to a reader/viewer, so try to give a journalist something new and compelling to cover. Work with your media contacts to understand their pressures and how best to approach them when you have a newsworthy story. An occasional chat over a cup of coffee is never a bad thing either.
3. Remain calm in a crisis.
If things go wrong, where possible, try to stay in control of the media (don’t run and hide!). If you create the agenda and manage the information flow, it will minimise rumour and speculation. Treat all journalists fairly (don’t have favourites!) and provide them with regular updates. Make sure that you develop your core message, learn how to control the direction of any interviews and remain courteous and polite, and never lose your cool. A few housekeeping rules for dealing with journalists: check they are who they say, avoid rushing into saying “no comment”, and always assume the microphone is switched on.
4. Stay savvy with social media.
Social media is a game changer. The accessibility, immediacy, speed and reach of social media means that a story, good or bad, can have an almost immediate impact on your business. Create a social media crisis plan in case the worst should happen. The earlier you enter the social media dialogue, the greater the chance that you will be able to influence the direction/outcome of the story. In general terms, stories that break on social media tend to happen fast and move on just as quickly.
“Social media is a game changer. The accessibility, immediacy, speed and reach of social media means that a story, good or bad, can have an almost immediate impact on your business.”
If you would like help or advice on your PR, content or social media strategy, then why not give us a call on +44 (0) 1730 719 600. We’d be happy to discuss the various ways we could help you and your business.
Image courtesy of Michel Focard de Fontefiguieres.