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Public Relations Primer Part III: 10 Donts

There are all kinds of smart moves professionals can make to raise their media visibility. Here are ten things not to do if you're aiming to heighten your public profile.

1. Don't make the story about you. The media care about, and want to use, your knowledge and expertise. Build your media pieces around the topics that the public, and the media, want to learn more about - not around announcements about the latest award you've won.

2. Don't misunderstand the process. The media will quote and feature you if you can deliver information their audiences need. They have no obligation to use you because you took out an ad, or because you play golf with the publisher.

3. Don't bite off too much at once. Keep it simple, and focused. Every media piece you send out should be about just one topic. Don't try to impress them with everything you know, or every possible angle. They can only do one story at a time, and they are deadline-pressured. Subtlety and complexity are usually your enemies.

4. Don't wander, or help reporters wander. In every interview, walk in knowing by heart your main point or message, and two or three key facts that support it. Make sure you say them, repeat them, and be sure the reporter gets them. Don't drift all over the topic's landscape.

5. Don't hold back. Don't withhold your "best stuff" for another day, or for paying clients. This is your spotlight, your moment - use it! Share the best of your knowledge with the media - they'll value you more.

6. Don't be leisurely. If a reporter calls, return the call promptly - within an hour or two, at most. They'll find someone else to use if you don't.

7. Don't overreach your knowledge. Talk to the media only about what you know best. If it's outside your core expertise, give it a pass - better yet, steer the reporter to a more appropriate resource. You'll score big points. Who wants to come across sounding ill-informed?

8. Don't send the reporter down an unproductive trail. Sure, you want to help a reporter do his or her job better. But that doesn't mean you have to coax them to interview a direct competitor, or someone else in the field who is likely to oppose or contradict you in print.

9. Don't try to fool a reporter or hide key facts. They usually find out anyway.

10. Finally, don't forget who gave you good coverage. Remember and reward reporters who feature you - not with gifts or anything inappropriate, but with kind thank-yous, and frequent suggestions and information for future stories, even if they may not involve you directly. Reporters value information and ease of access to it - deliver that, and you'll be a media favorite.

Ned Steele works with people in professional services who want to build their practice and accelerate their growth. The president of Ned Steele's MediaImpact, he is the author of 102 Publicity Tips To Grow a Business or Practice. To learn more visit or call 212-243-8383.


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