Speaking to the Press
If you get the hang of speaking to the press and you can establish a few good relationships, their contacts and outreach can be extremely beneficial to the marketing of your organization.
If you've never spoken to the press before - it can be an intimidating task. Let us be the ones to tell you from experience that reporters are far too busy to help ease your anxiety, or extract the highlights of a story from you, before determining whether or not it's something worth writing about. It's YOUR job to sell your story. If you don't sound like you have faith in your own press release and can't present it in a manner that makes it sound like it's important news, how can you expect a news reporter to view it as such?
So, put your anxiety aside and focus on your story instead of your experience speaking with the press (or lack thereof). Before you make contact with any reporters or media personnel, practice your pitch. Mock interviews can be useful and may help to identify questions before they're asked. Be prepared to answer.
When you're ready to speak to the press be clear, honest, and to the point. Pay attention to your presentation and make eye contact with the reporter to establish credibility and trust.
Also, while it may be difficult - stay relaxed. Speak with confidence and you'll earn respect. Remember if your story is rejected or not picked up by the press, don't let it get to you. The term "newsworthy" is subjective. What may not be of interest to one reporter could be another reporter's idea of a main feature.
Lastly, reporters are often running on deadlines and don't have much time to listen to your pitch. Always begin a conversation with asking if they have a minute to talk or if there's a better time for you to call. When they're ready to listen, make it quick and concise. They'll appreciate your understanding and will respect your courtesy.
Sherry Schuller is President of ViralCommerce.com and Zabbo Communications. She is the founder of the Conference on Strategic Growth for Businesses and Entrepreneurs, co-author of 222 Ways to Entrepreneurial Success, and has assisted many organizations with strategic planning, branding, marketing, advertising design, training, and application development. She was previously an Internet Specialist for IBM's leading North American distributor, Business Partner Solutions (now Avnet), and an independent consultant for various firms, including PRIMEDIA, Inc., the leading provider of targeted content and integrated marketing solutions in consumer and business-to-business sectors.
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