Understanding how the media works, what makes news and how to make the news can be valuable for any organization. In fact, favorable media exposure can mean recognition in the business community and a higher profile among potential employees, donors and investors. Every successful media relations campaign has several strategies in common. These ten steps will help your organization create an effective media relations program.
1. Define your objectives. What does your organization want to achieve? Don't get sidetracked by less important issues.
2. Pick a story idea that can attract media attention. Make sure the idea helps you achieve your business objectives and goals.
3. Remember your audience. Don't assume reporters know the intricacies of your field. Be clear and concise, and stay away from acronyms and jargon.
4. Identify appropriate spokespersons to tell your story. Spokespeople should be experts in their field and "buy in" to your organization's objectives.
5. Be prepared. While you know your business and your industry, preparation is the key. Have your spokesperson practice getting the message across in a mock interview or even in front of a mirror. If your budget allows, on-camera media training can help spokespeople take charge of interviews with the press.
6. Develop talking points. Make a list of three to five main points, crafting statements that address key issues, and discuss these messages with your spokespeople.
7. Pay attention to the reporter's perspective. Match the story you want to tell with the interests of the media, and look at what you have to say from the reporter's point of view.
8. Respect reporters' needs. Return calls promptly, and be aware of reporters' deadlines. They always appreciate having ample background material, and love facts and figures that will lend credibility to their story.
9. Keep your staff informed. Eliminate the element of surprise! Your management team and employees should be the first to know.
10. Reporters are human, too. Always keep the lines of communication open. In the end, you can successfully develop a relationship that will help you--and the reporter--get the job done. And, the reporter will be sure to call you first the next time they need information!