By Michelle Tennant
I've worked at building relationships with the media for more than 20 years and over that time I've come to realize there are no shortcuts. What works with journalists are the same basic rules we all learned in kindergarten.
To open the media floodgates and become a sought-after expert, follow those same rules for building relationships. Here are a few simple tips to get you started:
■Make media friends — One of the best places to connect with reporters seeking interviews is PitchRate.com (http://www.pitchrate.com). Go there to sign up as a source in your area of expertise.
■Know what you're talking about — Pitch responses that relate to your area of expertise. You'd think this was obvious, but it bears repeating. Stick close to home when pitching and your credibility will shine through.
■Early bird gets the worm — When the media contacts you, get back to them ASAP! Make it a high priority and never take more than 24 hours. Even on weekends.
■Pay attention — To be a great interview, you need to be a great listener. When talking to journalists, listen closely to what they're saying and what they're asking. Don't force your agenda. Allow things to develop organically.
■Be helpful — Send journalists articles, stats and research to help them with their story. You're the expert and you've done a lot of research in your field. Share relevant information and help your interviewer shine and you'll ensure that you'll get callbacks!
Keeping the Love Alive
Once your "Love Potion" has taken effect — that is, once you have a journalist's attention — here are a few tips on how to keep it:
· Get to the point — Keep it simple. When talking to the media, it's time to break out your "elevator pitch" – that one to two minute snappy description of what you do and why it's newsworthy right now. Stay on message and keep it simple. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Silly) will win the day!
· Make it easy to contact you — If you're hard to reach or you're slow to respond, the media will just go to the next person on their list. Here's a simple trick I swear by: Use a landline while talking to media. We all know how frustrating static and dropped calls can be. Being a clear voice on the phone can take you farther than you think.
· Give them what they want when they want it — Journalists are under tight deadlines. Make their job easier and you're sure to get repeat PR. If you're difficult to work with, you won't be contacted again.
· Be amazing in your interview, so you'll be sought out again and again. Two tricks to being amazing: 1. Do your homework — Have your pitch prepared, know the points you want to make and stay on message! 2. Listen carefully to find out what the journalist is asking you. Not sure? Ask them directly what more you can do to help them with their story. The more positive the interaction, the more the journalist will want to work with you again.
This leads to my last point, the one that will help you in the future as well as now. Build a relationship. Be concerned about the journalist's needs, not yours. As budgets get cut and news outlets struggle, journalists' jobs are becoming more and more stressful. Be a resource for them. Filter out relevant information and supply them with additional resources. Make their jobs easier and you will become their go-to contact in your field. That's priceless.
About the Author:
Wasabi Publicity co-owner, Michelle Tennant Nicholson, specializes in breaking news, only takes on clients who make a difference, and has been called a five star publicist by Good Morning America producer, Mable Chan. In 2009, Michelle placed a new client on Dr. Phil within 8 hrs of contract signing. She blogs about PR at http://www.StorytellerToTheMedia.com. For more great free publicity advice, go to http://www.publicityresults.com.