Tips for Working with the Media

Are you looking for tips for working with the media? Look no further than this blog!  Regardless of the type or interview setting you might do, certain best-practices will always apply. Following these tips will create a win for both sides. You get coverage that creates more business for you and the reporter or interviewer gets a great story.

One of the most important rules in dealing with the media is to be respectful of a reporter, editor, or producer’s time. Journalism is an industry of deadlines. The story must be ready before a paper goes to press or the next news broadcast airs. Even stories that appear solely online with just a few keystrokes still have deadlines. The speed of the internet means headlines can rapidly become outdated or irrelevant, and in the case of stories with big impact, reporters race to be the first to publish it.

So, anything you can do to help save time for a reporter and help them meet their deadline is going to reflect well on you. It will also increase your chances of getting your story covered.

  • When a reporter calls for information, but you are not the correct contact, refer them to the right person. Don’t know who that is? Then do the legwork to find out who the reporter should talk to and have that person call the reporter back. Go above and beyond in helping the reporter because you’ll save them time by finding the correct person and you become a trusted resource.
  • Respond as quickly as possible. All reporters work under deadlines, so be sure to ask what the deadline is. Respond as quickly as possible and give the reporter as much time as possible ahead of their deadline to work on your story. This will help ensure the reporter has time to get the facts of the story correct.

For example, when doing a press conference and want or expect the TV stations to report on it, schedule it for late morning or early afternoon. This timeframe gives the reporters ample time after their in-house conference to prepare the story. For TV, try to allow at least 2 hours before broadcast time for a story to be completed. Radio often needs less time, but you should still allow for as much time as you can.

With newspapers and other print media, the deadlines are usually farther in advance. A daily newspaper will probably need at least 3 to 4 hours to finish a story. And, of course, a weekly or monthly magazine will need a story well ahead of the date they go to press.

  • If you’re doing an interview, be punctual. Even if the reporter or crew shows up late, it’s far better for you to be the one waiting. Miss your appointment and you may very well miss your chance at getting on tonight’s news!
  • Be as cooperative as possible. If a reporter asks for documents or records that you possess, in s much as you have the power to do so, provide what they need. Don’t make them go through “proper channels” to request the information unless it is absolutely required. And don’t argue with a reporter! Even if you are right, you are the one who will look bad when the story comes out.
  • Provide fact sheets or press releases that are brief and simple. Hint: When choosing a PR professional to draft fact sheets and press releases, choose one with experience and a proven track record. These tools, when done professionally, are invaluable to reporters when they need background information to craft the questions or to confirm the correct spelling of someone’s name.
  • Convey any logistical information the reporter needs to know. Alert reporters to any information they will need for parking or to access the location for the interview. If you’re planning an event outdoors, be sure to make and convey any backup plans if things need to move indoors.
  • Include your contact information and be available after the event for follow-up questions. Don’t assume the reporter has all the information they need once the event has ended. Chances are, when they start to work on the story, they might find a gap in their notes or a point that needs clarification. So standby and be ready to respond to any calls. A good reporter will want to check their facts and the accuracy of the story, and if you’re unavailable to help them in that task, you run the risk of the story being killed or conveying information in a way you never intended.

When working with the media, it’s always helpful to remember that they are professionals who are doing their jobs, just as you are. You have a shared goal getting a good story shared with the public. Even when circumstances are tough, or your company is facing a scandal, the more you treat the members of the media as professional colleagues rather than as potential adversaries, the better you will fare!

Chris KubanChris Kuban started Chemistry PR and Multimedia with a vision to effectively formulate corporate and non-profit brands across the country. He is an expert in Media Relations, Event Management and video production. Working with a team of local and national suppliers, vendors, employees, and consultants has allowed him to coordinate more than 246 national events that help deliver the ROI his clients seek. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn. Chris is proud that his firm is ranked one of the Best St. Louis Public Relations Firms in the region.