Sunday, May 9, 2010

Help! There’s a Reporter on the Line!

Business owners and professionals can feel a stab of fear when the media comes calling. “Will they make me look like an idiot?” “Will they misquote me?” “What if I say something really stupid?” These are common thoughts before answering a media request.

As a PR person who trains clients on how to gracefully and powerfully interact with the media, here are some tips on how to make the most of the opportunity media attention provides.

1. Take a deep breath. Recognize that fearful thoughts are completely normal when stepping into uncharted territory. The media would not be calling you if they didn’t think you had something of interest to share.

2. Organize your thoughts. Before calling the reporter back, take a moment to think about what your goals are for the conversation. Do you have a main point you want to get across? You should.

3. Keep it simple. Today’s media coverage is concise and snappy. Make your remarks succinct and memorable. If there are areas where you feel vague, practice until you can sharply clarify your message.

4. It’s okay to say “I don’t know.” No one knows everything. If you are asked a question you don’t have the answer to, simply say so without undue apology. Offer to track down the information and forward it by email.

5. It’s okay to not talk about everything. While transparency can be a powerful tool in enhancing a corporate reputation, it is not always possible or appropriate. If you’re asked something you’re not able to talk about, simply tell the reporter by saying something like, “Our policy is not to release our sales figures,” or “I’m not able to disclose that, however I can tell you….”

With these tips, your media interview will help you and your company to truly shine in the spotlight.

©2010 Barbara Wayman, BlueTree Media, LLC.

5 Great Ways to Create Bad PR Outcomes

“Failure is not the only punishment for laziness. There is also the success of others.”
--Jules Renard

I’ve been working in PR for over 15 years, so you can bet I’ve got some expert thoughts in how to make the absolute worst PR decisions possible. Below are my top 5 ways to ensure the worst PR outcomes.

1. Be inconsistent in your messages. Sure, big successful companies come up with a clear platform of messages around their product that they use over and over again, but that’s so boring. Rework your key messages frequently and make sure they change radically. Use lots of industry lingo too, to make your messages obscure. People should have to work to be able to understand who you are and what you stand for. Don’t make it so easy on them.

2. Hire a professional PR firm but don’t listen to them. It’s true, you weren’t getting great results on your own, which is why you hired the professionals in the first place. But once they start getting results, (or even before), decide that you know better and over-rule their recommendations.

3. Only reach out to the media when you want something. Don’t bother to familiarize yourself with media outlets. They won’t notice. And take your time responding to media requests. They overstate the importance of deadlines anyway. Operate your media relations on a sporadic basis, and only when it suits you. Keep your focus on how mighty and important you are.

4. Don’t work from an annual plan. Shoot from the hip. Planning is too fussy and besides things are always changing anyway. It’s more fun to make decisions about what people think about your company on the fly.

5. Don’t respond to your PR firm in a timely manner but still expect them to produce quality deliverables on time. They can pick up your brainwaves. After all, telepathy is a valid means of communications in many movies.

I suppose that by now you’ve noticed that my tongue is firmly in my cheek for this list, but I truly have seen people implement these tactics and still expect great results. Don’t let that be you.