One of the benefits to using social media is the access business professionals have to new audiences. Our messages can be heard around the world. We can connect with people that we would have never met otherwise. It also means that we have the ability to amplify our message via the media.
Journalists, authors, radio talk show hosts, television show hosts, etc. all have the ability to connect with us. Now you might say, “Hey, that’s not important to me. I’m not trying to get noticed by anyone.” And maybe that’s true. But if right now you’re thinking about your next job opportunity OR you’re a consultant trying to get your business noticed OR you’re company wants to be on one of those “Best” or “Great” lists as a way to attract top talent, then getting quoted in the media might be exactly what you’re looking for.
If that’s the case – you’d like to get some media exposure these days – here are a few tips to consider from my friend Sarah Evans, owner of Sevans Strategy, a public relations and new media consultancy. She’s the author of the book “Reframe” and blogs at Faves + Co.
- Understand your place in the market. Evans emphasizes the importance of knowing your role in your industry.
- Have a media goal. Evans says, “Figure out what you’re trying to accomplish.”
- Think of ways to stand out. In an interview with InboundNow.com, Evans shares that it can be overwhelming to consciously think about getting media exposure. “Sometimes it’s not about standing out, it’s just about connecting or making an impact with your customers.”
- Engage with your audience. If you’re trying to connect with a particular journalist or media outlet, start reading their work. Send them an email or share their work when you like it. Evans reminds us journalists are people too. “Don’t fear them, their job is to tell an unbiased story showing multiple viewpoints. You are an expert, so share that expertise with them.”
Once you start getting media requests, it’s important to have good messaging. Denise Graveline, president at don’t get caught, a creative communications consulting firm that makes sure you don’t get caught unprepared, speechless or without a message, shares best practices for communicating with the media.
What should a business person do if they are contacted directly by the media?
[Graveline] I have a list of 11 questions that you get to ask reporters before, during and after the interview, and they’re worth keeping handy for just such a moment. Too often, people think they have to just start answering the questions. But unless the reporter is on a tight deadline—and that should be the first thing to ask about—you can schedule a time, so that you have time to prepare, instead of jumping right in. Most reporters are not expecting immediate answers, but if you start giving them, they’ll take notes.
Instead, that first call is to find out whether you are willing to be interviewed. If not, say no right away so she can move on to the next source. Likewise, call back promptly. You may not need to talk right this minute, but you shouldn’t put off calling for weeks on end. When you can’t talk this time, it’s also helpful to say, if true, that you would be willing to hear from the reporter on a future story.
Is there a way to prepare for an interview? If so, what should a person do?
[Graveline] Long before you get a call from a reporter, I hope you’ve spent some time thinking about your messages, which might include your business’s founding story, a short summary of the work you do and why it’s significant, and why you are motivated to pursue this work—those are all basic questions you might be asked, and you want a ready answer. Most people think about the questions they fear, and you should have answers for them. But more often, executives miss opportunities when they get a question they wanted or even one they expected, but didn’t prepare for.
For difficult questions, it’s useful to anticipate them and practice answering with a response, rather than a reaction. If you react—particularly in anger or impatience—you’re the one who’ll have the negative image, not the reporter. Responding means answering in a non-anxious, non-offended way. Reacting generally means you’re out of control of how you look and act. That won’t get you anywhere useful. There’s much more to learn about answering media questions, and I have a dozen resources on the topic that will help you anticipate and answer questions.
If you think you will be doing media interviews frequently, it’s worth investing in media training. While media interviews and public speaking and presenting share some core skills, media interviews come with many more rules and pitfalls. Learning how to handle them in advance will save you time, heartache and stress—and help you better get your message across. Training, at its best, can help you become the kind of trusted source who gets called back again and again.
What can I do to make sure the journalist captured my thoughts correctly?
[Graveline] There is an appropriate way to handle the situation, and it should happen right at the end of the interview. Before you stop talking, say, “Let’s take a minute to review. Tell me what you think I said, so we can both be sure I was clear.” Most reporters will take the time to do that—they have no desire to publish something inaccurate, believe it or not. But don’t wait for a second call or follow-up interview. The interview you are in now is likely your only chance to have this discussion. It’s a great tip given to me by New York Times science journalist Andrew Revkin, but it works on every topic.0